He said he went to investigate what turned out to be an explosion at a natural gas line, and came face to face with the mudslide.
However, with most utilities about to be cut off and sewage running into the nearby creek, she made a decision to heed the order to leave.
Though they were unclear of the exact number of fatalities at the time, it has been confirmed that 17 people have perished as a result of the mudslides. "I live there, Oprah lives there. It was so incredibly harrowing", said Brian O'Dea, author of "High: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler".
Rescuers frantically combed the mountains of mud, wreckage and boulders which landed on top of the affluent seaside community on Wednesday.
Rescue teams are still working round the clock to locate seven missing individuals, aged between two and 62.
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It could include everything from urgent, active missing-persons cases being worked by detectives to calls received from acquaintances saying they hadn't been able to reach someone they believe was in Montecito on Tuesday morning when mudslides swept through town and killed 17 people. But with the anticipated loss of utilities and sewage running into a nearby creek, "you have to leave", she said.
Jennifer Ramos says the Benitez brothers and Victor Benitez's 2-year-old son is in the hospital with injuries.
Crews are working to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of US 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Slowly but surely the floodwaters on the 101 Freeway began to recede.
Thousands are without power in and around Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.
Crews are working to clear debris from a key stretch of USA 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. There was no estimate on when it would reopen due to the large amounts of mud and debris damage.
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Residents are told to use caution when returning to their homes and know that returning to the damaged neighborhoods can be a traumatic experience.
The order to stay away was another hard turn for those living in the Southern California town that has been subject to repeated evacuation orders in recent weeks, first because of a monster wildfire last month, then because of downpours and mudslides.
More than two dozen people were injured in the mudslides, member station KCLU reports.
Thomas Fire burn areas that had been scorched just weeks ago were in the bullseye of the storm, which reportedly dropped as much as five inches of rain near Ojai.
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Major roads were swamped, trapping many in their homes.