Storm death toll rises to 17

The storm that struck the Montecito area has killed a total of 17 people, as of Thursday morning. Meanwhile, eight people remain missing.

On Wednesday, authorities discovered two dead bodies, raising the death toll from the previous figure of 15. Between reports issued on Wednesday and Thursday morning, however, the death toll remained the same and nine people who had been missing were located.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said during a press conference on Wednesday that the county coroner’s unit is in the process of identifying the victims and contacting relatives. Authorities are not yet releasing the names of victims or any identifying information, but they will be doing so in the near future, Brown said.

The storm has destroyed 65 single-family homes and damaged 446 single-family homes. Another 1,500 single-family homes are threatened. Officials say eight commercial properties have been destroyed and another 20 have been damaged.

The storm struck Santa Barbara County early Tuesday morning, causing flooding and mudslides, particularly in areas that had been affected by the recent Thomas Fire. The storm severely affected an area consisting of 19,200 acres, or 30 square miles.

Following the heavy rain, Montecito was covered in mud, debris, boulders and downed trees and power lines. Many people who did not comply with evacuation orders were trapped in their home.

Emergency responders have rescued dozens of people over the last couple days.

Numerous roads in the area remain closed, and rescue teams have been using military vehicles to traverse some of the mud. Highway 101 is expected to remain closed between the junction of State Route 150 and Milpas Street until Monday.