Sheriff Bill Brown cautioned Thursday that many or most of those unaccounted for may simply have been unreachable to the family and friends who reported them missing.
"We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary", Brown said. "There hasn't been a sound definition of what constitutes a missing person".
"We're sort of slow-moving now", said Miller, 40, a farmer, who added that the couple were waiting out the rescue and recovery at his brother's house.
At least 17 people have died as a result of the mudslides, which has destroyed houses and caused substantial damage in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Authorities haven't confirmed the names of the dead, but say children are among the victims.
The disaster caused by heavy rain hit Santa Barbara County early Tuesday morning, sending massive amounts of mud and trees into residential areas. The search for its victims is not. "There are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, siblings and the list goes on and on".
NeoTract, a maker of devices used in the medical field of urology, has launched a fundraising page asking for financial support for the family of Kim Cantin.
A mud-caked 14-year-old girl was among the dozens rescued on the ground Tuesday.
The drenching storm that triggered the disaster had cleared out, giving way to sunny skies, as hundreds of searchers carefully combed a landscape strewn with hazards.
The pair joined a fireman to dig the toddler out, scooping mud from her mouth before she was taken to hospital.
"It was a freaky moment to see her just covered in mud, " he said.
Another victim identified Wednesday was Rebecca Riskin, a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners. The school posted a statement about Rohter on Facebook. Officials in Sonoma County - where over half of the fatalities occurred - had decided not to deploy the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system, and some survivors of the 21 blazes later said they were inadequately warned.
The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48.
Santa Barbara County emergency manager Jeff Gater told the Los Angeles Times that he waited because, "If you cry wolf, people stop listening".
The worst of the rainfall occurred in a 15-minute span starting at 3:30 a.m. Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received almost an inch in 15 minutes.
The warnings for residents to leave had been issued for days before the mudslides through social media, news media and community information emails about the potential for mudflows from the huge wildfire scar in hills above neighborhoods. The vast majority of those homes were in areas already designated by authorities as under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. They used long-handled tools to search the muck in the painstaking task.
Crews from four counties, including many from Santa Maria and northern Santa Barbara County, coroners and staff from multiple jurisdictions converged on the area to assist local officials. Another 17 were still reported missing.