The mudslide was so powerful it swept several homes completely away and wrapped cars around trees.
Rapid-moving rivers of mud are now blamed for at least 13 deaths in Santa Barbara County homes were swept off their foundations. "I'm glad we got it out but who knows what else is out there".
The heaviest rains have now cleared away from the burn area, and the weather will continue to dry up on Wednesday.
Authorities confirmed Wednesday 7,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders, while 23,000 have voluntarily evacuated their homes. Earlier, officials said at least two dozen people were unaccounted for.
Hundreds of first responders in Santa Barbara County waded through waist-high mud while others flew over the devastation searching for survivors.
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The dead victims range in age from three to 89. Tuesday morning brought rainfall accumulation of more than an inch per hour to the region, causing mudslides in areas scorched by wildfires in recent months. Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received almost an inch in 15 minutes.
Mr Johnson said he and his wife, Karen, heard a baby crying after the flooding had subsided and they managed to climb down from the roof of their swamped home. "Power lines were down, high-voltage power lines. Water was flowing out of water mains and sheared-off fire hydrants".
One such resident, Marco Farrell, 45, called the slide more frightening than the "biggest, scariest, horrifying monster you've ever dreamed of". "Many chose to stay in place", Brown said. About 50 people were evacuated by helicopter.
The mudslides began Tuesday afternoon, totally destroying a number of homes as they tore downhill in the affluent enclave of Montecito. One such piece of equipment grabbed a piece of a vehicle. Among the homeowners affected by the storm was the actor Jeff Bridges, who said on Twitter that his home was "severely damaged".
"Mud came in an instant, like a dam breaking".
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Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked lost, the running game was nearly non-existent, and the offensive line left much to be desired. Hershel Walker, who led Georgia to its 1980 national title as a freshman running back, was honorary captain for the Bulldogs.
While the town is best known as a getaway for the rich and famous - the median home price among current listings is more than $4 million - there are also working families living in modest houses and apartments.
Destructive waves of mud sliding down barren hillsides in Southern California slammed everything in sight.
The force of the rushing water, mud and debris can be catastrophic. There's more debris than normal.
Highway 101, which runs along the Pacific coast, was particularly inaccessible for about fifty kilometers. At one spot, a auto appeared to be sheared in half - its front half pointed skyward, jammed against a pile of muddy wreckage. It was 92 percent contained, and officials don't expect full containment until later this month. The fire destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged another 280 in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, particularly affecting the cities of Montecito and Carpinteria.
"That's definitely at play here".
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"It was a freaky moment to see her just covered in mud", he said.