Residents didn't heed voluntary evacuation before mudslide

Residents of the area hit the hardest by the deadly flash floods in Southern California didn't heed a voluntary evacuation.

In Montecito, Calif., the vast majority of people under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders early Tuesday stayed in their homes, 400 of which were either destroyed or damaged. At least 17 people died.

Evacuation orders are generally based on weather conditions, projected storm or fire patterns and the immanency of the threat.

Oftentimes, the feared devastating flames, floodwaters and mudslides don't materialize. But experts said disasters can change course in an instant.

Fourteen beaches in Santa Barbara County are closed to swimmers because of contamination from deadly floods in the coastal foothills. County health officials announced Thursday that ocean bacterial levels are above standard levels along dozens of miles of coast from Gaviota State Beach to Carpinteria State Beach. Even wrecked cars have been swept onto beaches.

Meanwhile, a mandatory evacuation zone was expanded Thursday to keep the public out of the way of rescue and relief efforts in mudslide-stricken Montecito.

County Sheriff Bill Brown said residents can expect to be out of their homes for a week or more.

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