Montecito mudslides: Number of missing drops to 3 after man found safe

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The number of people missing in the deadly Montecito mudslides was lowered to three after a 53-year-old man was found safe. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

The number of people missing in the deadly Montecito mudslides was lowered to three Monday after a 53-year-old man was found safe, authorities said.

John Keating was located in Ventura with his dog, Tiny, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

The three people who remain unaccounted for are: Lydia Sutthithepa, 2; John "Jack" Cantin, 17; and Faviola Benitez Calderon, 28.

Earlier Monday, the White House released its first statement on the devastating Montecito mudslides, nearly a week after the first deaths were recorded.

The statement said the president will monitor the situation as cleanup and recovery moves forward nearly a week after flash floods ripped through the coastal community.

VIDEO: River of mud rushes down Montecito street as family scrambles for safety
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Dramatic new video shows what it was like for one family at the moment a wall of mud hit their home.


The White House statement said the president and first lady extend their deepest sympathies to the families affected, their appreciation for the first responders saving lives, and their prayers for those who are missing.

Twenty people were killed and more than 500 homes were damaged or destroyed when hills above town gave way amid a downpour last Tuesday, sending torrents of liquid mud and debris hurtling toward the ocean.

MORE: Candlelight vigil honors memory of Montecito mudslide victims
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Hundreds of people gathered by candlelight in Santa Barbara to mourn the loss of life suffered in the mudslides that overwhelmed Montecito.


Authorities have transitioned from search-and-rescue to a search-and-recovery phase.

"The focus is to keep digging up debris pile, send dogs through there, see if they can get a hit, if we can get something like a concentrated area that we can work on" said Capt. Scott Quinlin of the Los Angeles Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team, one of several agencies assisting in the area. "Right now it's just so widespread. The mud in some areas is still real soupy, so the dogs aren't going to be able to smell in mud."

According to Edith Lohmann, an insurance specialist with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, just 58 buildings in Montecito's two zip codes have coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program.

The 101 freeway and many other roads are closed indefinitely. The California Department of Transportation said it hopes to have an estimate sometime Monday about when the 101 will reopen.

Officials said much of the water has receded, allowing crews working around the clock to focus on removing solid material from the roadway.

Caltrans District 5 officials said the 101 will not reopen for "at least another week" due to the massive amount of cleanup and repairs that need to be done.

Amtrak has added additional cars to its route between Santa Barbara and points east as commuters increasingly rely on rail service to get around the freeway closure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
mudslidewoman killedbody foundHighway 101road closurebusinesssevere weatherThomas FireSanta Barbara County
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