Search goes on for Calif. mudslide victims; death toll at 17

This photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows the wreckage of two autos on the beach that were carried by floodwaters down Montecito Creek Tuesday all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Anxious family members awaited word on loved ones Wednesday as rescue crews searched grimy debris and ruins for more than a dozen people missing after mudslides in Southern California destroyed houses, swept cars to the beach and left more than a dozen victims dead. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Mike Eliason

Effective immediately, and in order to protect the public’s health, the Santa Barbara County Health Officer has closed the following beach ocean waters

for public use until further notice:

Gaviota Beach down the coast to the County line at Rincon Point. This includes, but is not limited to, the following beaches: Gaviota, Refugio, El Capitan, Sands at Coal Oil Point, Goleta State Beach, Hope Ranch, Arroyo Burro, Leadbetter, East Beach at Mission Creek, East Beach at Sycamore Creek, Butterfly, Hammond’s, Summerland, Carpinteria State Beach.

People should not enter the water as levels of bacteria highly exceed standard levels. All ocean water in these locations should be considered contaminated and no recreational activities or swimming should take place. This order does not include the sandy beaches themselves.

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Future ocean water testing results will inform the decision about when to re-open the beach ocean waters for public use.

The mudslides and runoff from this week’s heavy rain contains unknown amounts of untreated sewage and chemical contaminants. Additionally there are California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) reports of hazardous materials washing up on the beaches having potential to pose a threat to public health and safety.