DEVASTATING

Death Toll Rises in California Mudslides Amid Search for Missing

The death toll in Southern California’s deadly mudslides climbed to 17 on Wednesday, as family members of more than a dozen missing residents continued to search frantically for their loved ones. The mudslides slammed into Montecito in Santa Barbara County early Tuesday, just weeks after devastating wildfires tore through the area. Authorities say 17 people are missing. Two of those confirmed among the dead Wednesday, Jim and Alice Mitchell, were found on a different street from the one they lived on, apparently swept up by the mud, family members told NBC News. They had ignored a voluntary evacuation warning to stay home for Jim Mitchell’s 89th birthday. Family members of other missing residents stood by awaiting news as rescue workers searched through the debris. One resident, Hayden Gower, told NBC News he was trying to find his 69-year-old mother. “The water and the mud just flew in and took her by surprise,” he was quoted as saying. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know. They haven’t found her. I’m going to do everything I can.”