California sheriff: List of missing a ‘constantly moving number’
by Leigh Jones
Posted 1/12/18, 10:47 am
Officials in Montecito, Calif., struggled Friday to pinpoint the exact number of people still missing after Tuesday’s flash flooding and mudslides. “It’s a constantly moving number,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told the Los Angeles Times. Late Thursday, officials pegged the number of missing at 43, after earlier in the day saying only eight people remained unaccounted for. Officials are using social media and evacuation shelter message boards to identify anyone who hasn’t contacted friends and family. Search crews have combed through about 75 percent of the area already, searching mud-filled houses for survivors. Seventeen people are confirmed dead, but Brown expects the death toll to rise. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office identified all the victims late Thursday. They include four children and four adults over 70. The mudslides hit overnight Tuesday after a strong storm moved across hillsides left bare following December’s wildfires. Officials urged residents to leave but most ignored evacuation warnings. The mud and water rushed down with such force it swept houses off their foundations and obliterated some structures completely. Car-sized boulders now dot streets and neighborhoods where homes once stood.
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Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.