Search for missing persons grows in California mudslides

Flash flooding, debris flow and mudslides are punishing the Southern California communities hit hard by the Thomas and La Tuna fires.
3:47 | 01/11/18

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Transcript for Search for missing persons grows in California mudslides
What a horrifying situation in California this morning. Let's look at those pictures right now. You see the deaf station right there. It is so widespread and the death toll is growing. Unfortunately that is true, George and more than a dozen people are missing. Search and rescue teams and family members are still out there looking for their loved ones. 400 homes have been damaged or destroyed and many of those homes still standing won't have water for months. Our senior national correspondent Matt Gutman is there again in montecito for us with the latest. Good morning, Matt. Reporter: Hey, good morning, robin. Hard to imagine but where I'm standing was a manicured lawn with stately oaks and I think you can make out that house in the back. It had been completely submerged by this sea of Boulders here and when you see this and this Boulder field goes on for about a mile downstream you can understand why search and rescue teams say they haven't been able to reach every house that has been submerged and why they expect the death toll to rise. The crushing power of these debris flows. This was a Toyota but it looks like it went through a compacter. This morning, chilling first videos of the montecitq mudslides. Close the door. Reporter: Marco Farrell venturing outside as a motorist pulls up. The flash flood is right there. Reporter: He sprints inside to warn his family. Wake dad up. Wake up! Reporter: His fear justified. That series of debris flows sweeping away cars, debris reaching up to the second story of some homes, so far at least 17 lives lost with another 17 reported missing. It was very stunning to see the extent of the devastation. We realized that this is going to be a long and difficult journey for all of us. Reporter: This morning, what remains is a landscape transformed and the desperate search for families. Josie. Reporter: Hayden was looking for hi mother Josie. Later he would learn that she was one of the victims. I don't know why she didn't stay upstairs. Reporter: On Tuesday on that same street, Glen oak, we found Robert risken searching for his mother. On Wednesday he was back with a search party of family and friends including Rebecca's sister, Teresa we gave her a ride to search with a professional team of rescuers. But officials say 500 members of search and rescue teams were picking through the debris including Julie kirk-purcell and her dog zero. We saw them earlier squeezing through this window, zero perched on her shoulder and we met up with them again later. When you look at everything, 360 degrees from where we are, is it even possible, do you think, that somebody might have survived this? Possibly. Possible, yeah. Absolutely. Reporter: With no water and no power, squadrons of helicopters had to airlift hundreds of residents stranded in an area called Romero canyon which is still impassable this morning. Back on Glen oaks street after a couple of hours of searching Hayden and Teresa started talking. Until that moment they were complete strangers. Now united in grief and buoyed by that embrace. And when you look around, robin, you can understand why one official told me montecito is largely back in the stone age. There's no water, there's no power. There's no gas here and the reason there's no water is because this debris flow severed the water main for this entire area. It's one reason they think that most of the community of montecito will have to evacuate. Robin. Still so unbelievable what's going on there. All right, Matt, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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