Some local firefighters are back in areas they helped save from flames weeks ago.
One of California's most celebrated roads, coastal Highway 101, was closed in parts of Santa Barbara County where mud was 60cm deep in parts.
Those killed were as young as 3 and as old as 84.
Overall, 28 people were injured.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said there "isn't an exact science" for predicting the scope of a disaster.
Yesterday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 percent of the inundated area, authorities said. "Our goal is to actually rescue people". Santa Barbara County's fire chief said nearly the entirety of Montecito, except for a small section in the southeast, were under mandatory evacuation orders as of 6 p.m. local time. He had been on the list of missing persons. Roy Rohter's wife was rescued and hospitalized in stable condition, but Roy Rohter did not survive, Van Hecke told ABC News.
"Roy's life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God", said Michael Van Hecke, St. Augustine's headmaster. "Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters' friendship and generosity".
Images taken before and after the mudslides in Montecito, California, show the extent of the destruction.
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Hayden Gower is still searching for his mother.
At dawn, she went outside.
Rebecca Riskin, founder of Riskin Partners real estate firm died in Montecito as a result of the flooding and mudslides in the area, the firm confirmed in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance.
Rescuers were busy probing thick muck, swollen creeks and tangled trees with poles in search of seven missing people while dogs sniffed for bodies. A third sister and the girls' mother are now being treated in the ICU, the family said.
Montecito alone saw heavy rainfall in a short amount of time. "Water was flowing out of water mains and sheared-off fire hydrants".
This affluent, upscale community near the famed San Ysidro Ranch with its sprawling, multimillion dollar homes and lush rolling lawns was previously best known as site of former US President John F. Kennedy's honeymoon with his bride, Jackie Bouvier, in 1953, and for its current celebrity residents. Those killed ranged in age from 3 to 89, and all lived in Montecito in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles, authorities said.
Emergency workers search areas damaged from storms in Montecito, Calif., Jan. 11, 2018. "Helicopters rescued some people who climbed onto the roofs of their homes to escape the torrent of water, and mud".
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Biasotti and Ufberg reported from Montecito and Santa Barbara.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 17 people remained missing.
Survivors included a 14-year-old girl miraculously pulled muddy and dazed from a home collapsed by the flows that killed her father.
The mudslides began around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when residents in their path were likely asleep. And now a massive rescue operation is underway along the southern California coast.
The weather has snarled drivers and first responders attempting to aid storm victims.
Crews are continually moving forward in rescue mode, searching for survivors; however, access is proving to be extremely hard.
Stranded drivers caught up in the rising water levels were being plucked from their vehicles to safer, dryer ground by emergency personnel relying on mostly aviation transportation.
A semi-tractor trailer sits stuck in mud on U.S. Highway 101, in Montecito.
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