Ellen Degeneres forced to leave home after mudslides

Rescue workers enter properties to look for missing persons after a mudslide in Montecito California

Rescue workers enter properties to look for missing persons after a mudslide in Montecito California

The California mudslide that killed at least 18 people is causing distress miles from where the torrent of muck and boulders stopped, as a local economy that thrives on tourism and the lure of sun-soaked beaches was left reeling.

As rescuers searched Wednesday for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides swept away homes in Montecito, a San Diego-based task force and a strike team have been deployed to the area to assist with the efforts.

California Fire spokesman Brad Bihun says, "Right now we still are in a rescue mode so we don't know what is out there".

More than 1,200 workers taking part in the search and cleanup effort flooded into the town with a population of about 9,000.

In a statement to KSBY-6 News, Cottage Health said, "We're very saddened by the death of Dr. Mark Montgomery, who was a member of the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Medical Staff. Dr. Montgomery was a respected orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand surgery".

Mud, boulders and other debris that raced down the hills scorched by the Thomas fire not only littered the highway lanes but also blocked drainage channels and filled debris basins, forcing water to continue flowing onto the freeway - the biggest obstacle at Olive Mill Road. "This is a constantly changing list", he said. They pump it out and it comes back in, pump it out and it comes back in.

She noted another rainstorm is forecast for the end of next week.

Jennifer Ramos says Marilyn Ramos called home daily to her family in her native town of Marquelia near Acapulco on Mexico's Pacific coast. "They just can't keep the water from coming in".

"Neighborhoods were just completely wiped out", she said, "Mud took everything with it". Northbound motorists can follow the same route in reverse. We extend honest condolences to his family and all who knew him as a colleague and friend.

Marshall Taylor told ABC News his brother went by his middle name, Loring, and was 79, not 67 as Santa Barbara County officials reported earlier.

Reopening the freeway also depends on getting surface streets cleared, along with the drainage channels and debris basins.

Water, mud and debris continue to move, hampering Caltrans progress in clearing USA 101.

They were soon pulled in different directions. "It's essential to use every tool to accomplish the recovery of our community". Additionally, the U.S. 101 area remains a disaster rescue and recovery zone.

Mud, rocks and other debris that's being removed is being dumped on Goleta Beach, at the end of Ash Avenue, in the Foothill landfill, at Caltrans sites and several other locations outside the county, Fayram said.

It's unclear how many people actually got the alert.

The message, similar to an Amber Alert for abducted children, was sent about 3:50 a.m. Tuesday to all registered cellphones in areas that were under voluntary and mandatory evacuations because of heavy rains that threatened mudflows in the wake of the Thomas fire, officials said.

They failed to find any Wednesday, the 41-year-old married father of three said, but didn't find any bodies either, which provided him some solace.

John "Jack" Keating, a 53-year-old transient who often frequents the riverbed, is still missing.

Montecito residents begin to decide whether to evacuate or stay in place with possibility of losing all power, water and gas.

But 62-year-old Delbert Weltzin, who had been previously identified as missing, was "found alive and well", Brown told the AP.

At least 17 people have been killed and 8 more are reported missing after intense rain following destructive fires in the area led to one of California's worst flooding emergencies in recent history.

During the fires, the restaurant lost holiday parties and customers, but they made adjustments.

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