California officials scramble to clear debris before another storm hits

Santa Barbara officials have warned that they need to clear debris from drainage basins and channels following this week’s deadly mudslides or risk possible further mudflows if another storm hits Southern California.

Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Emergency Management Officials, told a press conference Saturday that the blocked drainage channels in the Montecito area of the county meant that even if a storm of "less intensity" hit, the area could see "more mud and flow."

The warning came as the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced that the death toll in Tuesday's mudslides had risen to 19 after 25-year-old Morgan Christine Corey was identified as among the dead.

Five others remain missing after mudslides occurred after a heavy downpour struck areas burned by the so-called Thomas Fire that scorched hillsides last month, the county sheriff's office said. Four children aged 3, 6, 10 and 12 are among the dead.

The mudslides left drainage basins and channels clogged with debris, officials explained. A section of Highway 101 — which runs north-south through the states of California, Oregon and Washington — also remains closed indefinitely due to the high-levels of water on the road surface, according to California's Department of Transportation.

RELATED: The most harrowing photos of the Southern California mudslides

12 PHOTOS
The most harrowing photos of the Southern California mudslides
See Gallery
The most harrowing photos of the Southern California mudslides
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 09: Mangled cars are stuck near Olive Mill Road in Montecito after a major storm hit the burn area Tuesday January 9, 2018 in Montecito, California. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A search dog looks for victims in damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Mud fills the interior of a car destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A damaged car carried by mud flow, floats in flooded waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
An abadoned car floats in flooded waters and debris on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Abadoned cars stuck in flooded water on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A section of the Union Pacific Railroad is blocked by mudflow and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A section of the Union Pacific Railroad is blocked by mudflow and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel search through debris and damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 9: Mud and debris gather outside the Montecito Inn along Olive Mill Road in Montecito after a major storm hit the burn area January 9, 2018 in Montecito, California. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 9: A muddy Mark Olson stands along Olive Mill Road in Montecito after trying to save his house after a major storm hit the burn area Tuesday January 9, 2018 in Montecito, California. Olson had minor damage to his house. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“We have got to get those basins cleared as fast as we can,” Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Emergency Management Officials told a press conference Saturday.

“If we don’t get those debris basins cleared out then we’re not going to be prepared for the next storm and we don’t know what that storm is going to look like.”

Lewin said clearing the debris was his team's number one priority to mitigate the risk of another mudslide. He added that a task force was working on locating places where they could safely move the debris.

“We have got to get those channels ready or we’re going to have more mud and flow under a storm that would be of less intensity,” he said.

The seven-day forecast for the Montecito area has no storm warnings and is largely dry with a small chance for light rain on Friday, according to the Weather Channel.

“We’re into a little bit of a dry pattern over the next few days,” said Frank Giannasca, senior meteorologist at the Weather Channel. “There’s a possibility of some rain showers around Friday but it doesn’t look like anything of significant consequence, relatively light showers.”

RELATED: Powerful mudslide rips through Southern California

50 PHOTOS
Powerful mudslide rips through Southern California
See Gallery
Powerful mudslide rips through Southern California
A building uprooted by a massive mudslide is lodgedin a tree in Montecito, California, January 10, 2018. Rescuers used dogs and helicopters to search for victims of powerful mudslides which left at least 15 people dead in a southern California community that is also home to major celebrities including Oprah Winfrey. Heavy rains sent rivers of waist-high mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito and other towns in Santa Barbara County northwest of Los Angeles, which are still recovering from last month's ferocious wildfires. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
VENTURA, CA - JANUARY 09: Mario Romero looks at mud debris covering Maricopa Highway 33 North of Ojai that has several closures due to mud and debris slides covering the roadway Tuesday morning as rain from the first significant storm system of the year is causing debris flows in recent burn areas across Southern California on January 9, 2018 in Ventura, California.. The storm is expected to bring unseasonably warm conditions, up to 4 inches of rain, snow, gusty winds and possible thunderstorms. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A damaged house is surrounded by large boulders and debris following mudslides due to heavy rains in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 10, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A damaged house is surrounded by large boulders and debris following mudslides due to heavy rains in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 10, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A semi-tractor trailer sits stuck in mud and flood waters on the highway after mudslides in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Picture taken January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: An abandoned car sits in mud following a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 17 people have died and hundreds hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A bulldozer clears mud from the northbound 101 freeway near Montecito after a massive mudslide in Montecito, California, January 10, 2018. Rescuers used dogs and helicopters to search for victims of powerful mudslides which left at least 15 people dead in a southern California community that is also home to major celebrities including Oprah Winfrey. Heavy rains sent rivers of waist-high mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito and other towns in Santa Barbara County northwest of Los Angeles, which are still recovering from last month's ferocious wildfires. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The north and southbound lanes of the 101 freeway near Montecito are covered in mud after a massive mudslide in Montecito, California, January 10, 2018. Rescuers used dogs and helicopters to search for victims of powerful mudslides which left at least 15 people dead in a southern California community that is also home to major celebrities including Oprah Winfrey. Heavy rains sent rivers of waist-high mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito and other towns in Santa Barbara County northwest of Los Angeles, which are still recovering from last month's ferocious wildfires. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A basketball is lodged between two fallen trees as Cal Fire inmmate crew searches for people still missing in the aftermath of a massive mudslide in Montecito, California, January 10, 2018. Rescuers used dogs and helicopters to search for victims of powerful mudslides which left at least 15 people dead in a southern California community that is also home to major celebrities including Oprah Winfrey. Heavy rains sent rivers of waist-high mud and debris flowing from the hills into Montecito and other towns in Santa Barbara County northwest of Los Angeles, which are still recovering from last month's ferocious wildfires. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: A car sits in mud and debris on Highway 101 after a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 17 people have died and hundreds hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: Orange County search and rescue crews began looking for missing people along Olive Mill Road and Hot Springs Road on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 15 people have died and hundreds are still stranded after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: A member of the Los Angeles County fire search and rescue team rests with his dog while searching for mudslide victims on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 15 people have died and hundreds are still stranded after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: A Los Angeles County firefighter walks with his dog after searching through debris field from a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 15 people have died and hundreds are still stranded after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MONTECITO, CA - JANUARY 10: A resident carries her dog as she walks on a mud covered road after a mudslide on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. 17 people have died and hundreds hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged after massive mudslides crashed through Montecito, California early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Residents look on as a man clears debris from a mudslide in Los Angeles, California on January 9, 2018. The deadly storm claimed the lives of 13 people in Santa Barbara County. Flash flooding also occurred in the recently burned areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. (Photo by: Ronen Tivony) (Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A search dog looks for victims in damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Family members inspect the inside of a home covered in mud following the mudslides in Montecito, California, U.S., in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 10, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Boulders block a road after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A car washed downhill in a rain-driven mudslide are seen in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter (in yellow) instructs journalists to retreat to safer ground after a rain-driven mudslide destroyed two cars and damaged property in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists stand in ankle-deep mud after a rain-driven mudslide destroyed two cars and wrecked property in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Two cars washed downhill in a rain-driven mudslide are seen in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Mud fills the interior of a car destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency personnel inspect a damaged home on Hot Springs Road after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Abadoned cars stuck in flooded water on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A section of the Union Pacific Railroad is blocked by mudflow and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A section of the Union Pacific Railroad is blocked by mudflow and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A damaged car carried by mud flow, floats in flooded waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Debris floats in flooded waters on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
An abadoned car floats in flooded waters and debris on the freeway after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel rescue a 14-year-old girl from a house after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel search through debris and mud flow after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this still photo taken from video provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel search through debris and damaged homes after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, January 9, 2018. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Flash flood / massive amounts of mud swept thru #montecito oaks neighborhood. Mud buckling doors trying to get in h… https://t.co/gq6tlE8otg
Emergency personnel rescue people from rising flood waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department January 9, 2018. Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
An overturned car is entangled in debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department January 9, 2018. Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel rescue a man from flood waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department January 9, 2018. Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Emergency personnel rescue people from flood waters and debris after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. in this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department January 9, 2018. Santa Barbara County Fire Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Unbelievable. This the 101 North in Montecito/Summerland. Completely blocked with mud. #CAStorm 📹: Joyce Dudley-San… https://t.co/rNZrTvQ7pl
Check out this mudslide blocking NB lanes of 101 between Carpenteria and Montecito. The highway is closed from Vent… https://t.co/tB9WrOlB2J
#BREAKINGNEWS: LAPD squad car spotted trapped by mudslide in La Tuna Canyon area. https://t.co/ZaWaafW8Jt
People trapped by mudflows across #Montecito roads. This is E Valley Rd/192 & Sheffield. Boulders, branches washed… https://t.co/TlPon3Qvxh
Debris covers the streets along Coast Village Road. #CAwx #CAstorm #SantaBarbara #Montecito https://t.co/TvKezRyX20
People being rescued from their homes in #Montecito. https://t.co/hcQH8wISyo
This is security cam footage of the explosion in #montecito https://t.co/gXj6as7N8S
#CAStorm - Firefighters rescue a girl who was trapped in Montecito following heavy rain and mudflow in the 300 bloc… https://t.co/www3MpwnXX
#CAstorm- Santa Barbara County Firefighter’s use a search dog to look for victims where multiple homes once stood i… https://t.co/5FIzMIOyFY
The national guard on Coast Village Road. Grateful for our first responders. #CAStorm https://t.co/zCVIHqQwG2
Mud fills a street after a rain-driven mudslide destroyed two cars and damaged property in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank, California, January 9, 2018. Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

As for Highway 101, Jim Shivers a representative from the California Department of Transportation said he could not tell members of the public when the road would reopen due to the "massive amount of water on the highway."

Shivers added that while he did not yet have a time or date for when the road would be reopened, it would reopen at some point.

"Once we can get that water to recede we feel very confident that we can bring in the available equipment on standby get down to the bottom and move the heavy material out of the way," he said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.