CBSN

For first time since deadly Calif. mudslides, some residents return home

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Authorities lifted some evacuation orders for Southern California neighborhoods near where powerful mudslides destroyed homes and killed 21 people. Santa Barbara County officials said residents of certain areas on the western edge of Montecito will be allowed to return at midday Tuesday. 

Utilities may still be out and a boil water notice remains in effect.   

"This is the first time coming back here, and obviously, as you can see, there's really no way we can come back to this," one Montecito resident told CBS Los Angeles. "It's horrible, it's sad, but the good thing is we're still alive."

Many of the residents who have been permitted to return to their neighborhoods are finding the condition of their homes to be unlivable.

"It's been difficult," said another resident whose home sustained a great deal of damage. "We've been living in [our] house since 1980."

With the partial evacuation lifted, businesses in the area were able to open their doors again for the first time in weeks.

"We were in mud up to our knees," said an employee who works at a clothing boutique in the area. "We were able to get it cleaned up relatively fast. We were lucky we didn't have any permanent damage."

Large swaths of the coastal town will remain evacuated as crews continue to remove mud and boulders and rebuild drainage pipes and power lines.

Officials said over the weekend that it would be a gradual process getting residents back into homes.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared Monday a "Day of Remembrance of the Montecito Mudslides" and ordered flags flown at half-staff over the state Capitol.

A 17-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl remain missing.