Catholic school founder among mudslides' fatalities in California

13 January, 2018, 16:45 | Author: Wade Massey

Downed power lines wrapped around trees at one property, while elsewhere the lines dropped nearly to the ground. In the Romero Canyon area above Montecito, scores have been marooned since Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Riskin, a 61-year-old retired professional ballerina, founder of Riskin Partners real estate firm and almost 30-year Montecito resident and businesswoman, died in Montecito as a result of the flooding and mudslides in the area, the firm confirmed in a Facebook post and statement.

Authorities had eight active missing-person investigations, and an additional 35 people were reported missing by friends and relatives.

Tuesday's mudslides in Santa Barbara County were the result of wildfires followed by a heavy storm that sent rivers of debris streaming down steep hillsides.

Searchers had checked most of the debris zone for victims and some were doubling back to leave no stone unturned Thursday when a crew ended up in the backyard of Bill Asher, who lost his palatial home and a similar one he was restoring next door.

Just in the past month, the film consultant, along with her pair of dogs, had spent two nights in a Red Cross shelter, a night in her minivan, and two weeks with a friend in Paso Robles, about 100 miles north on the now-blocked Highway 101. The mudslide swept through the coastal community on Tuesday morning, catching many off-guard.

The disaster was already unfolding when Santa Barbara County officials sent out their first cellphone alert at 3:50 a.m. County emergency manager Jeff Gater said officials decided not to send one sooner out of concern it might not be taken seriously.

So when the voluntary evacuation advisory was issued for her neighborhood in this wealthy enclave just south of Santa Barbara, she packed a "go bag" and then ignored the warning.

Karson, reporting for NPR from Pasadena, Calif., said the mudflows above Montecito were so powerful they ripped some homes off their foundations. He and his parents put belongings in three cars in case they chose to leave before the storm.

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MONTECITO The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before.

One of the oldest victims was Roy Rohta, revered founder of a private Catholic school in nearby Ventura. But the other child is still missing. "We think somewhere in the debris field". "But nothing remains of their house".

Her 27-year-old sister called relatives every day in the town of Marquelia, near Acapulco on Mexico's Pacific coast, Jennifer Ramos said. Riskin is survived by her husband and their two children, her namesake firm said.

Some of the searches had happy endings.

"We have a time frame that we want to get to people as quick as possible", said Battalion Chief David Neels, Santa Barbara County Fire.

"I should have evacuated", she said.

"It's just incredible. Seeing pictures doesn't do it justice", she said of the downed trees, flattened houses and muddy streets.

The stop sign sits at an angle, the grass and greenery are nowhere to be seen and a "Road Closed" sign blocks a decorative road sign. The rainstorm that swept into Santa Barbara this week would not.

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