Hundreds of rescuers are combing wreckage in Southern California for those missing after mudslides that have killed 17.
Another 28 injuries have been reported in Santa Barbara County following the deluge that overwhelmed an area scorched by wildfires last month.
More than 100 homes were destroyed, and another 300 have been damaged.
One rescue worker tearfully described plucking a “muddy doll” of a toddler from under several feet of debris.
Berkeley Johnson said the two-year-old girl was taken to hospital and suffered an injury to her hip.
Police say 17 people remain missing. The death toll rose on Wednesday afternoon after two more bodies were found.
More than 50 people have been rescued already but many places were still inaccessible. Several roads were closed, including the major Highway 101 which authorities say will not be reopened until Monday.
The upmarket neighbourhood of Montecito is home to celebrities such as actor Rob Lowe, chat show host Ellen DeGeneres and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
On Instagram, Ms Winfrey said her property had escaped the worst as she toured the scene, but described the house next door as “devastated”.
Some Montecito residents returned to their homes on Wednesday to see what they could salvage from the ruins.
Thousands had to leave their homes, many for the second time in two months. The emergency services declared an exclusion zone, saying anyone moving around the area would be in the way of rescuers and would be subject to arrest.
Heavy rain run-off caused a mudflow in Montecito, where some homes were knocked off their foundations, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.
This comes after a record-setting year of $306bn (£226bn) of weather and climate-related disaster costs inthe United States, with 2017 the third warmest year on record, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In December, California Governor Jerry Brown said the state was “facing a new reality” as climate change meant wildfires could erupt “every year or every few years”.