California Mudslide Death Toll at 18 as Search for Missing Continues

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The deadly mudslides that hit Montecito, California, were already occurring when Santa Barbara County officials first sent emergency alerts to cellphones in the area.

"We're going to be working in the debris piles", McTigue said.

"Neighborhoods were just completely wiped out", she said, "Mud took everything with it".

DeGeneres explained that on January 7, she was told there was a mandatory evacuation in her neighborhood following heavy rains.

The daytime host then said that while they believed that evacuations were just cautionary, the impact of the mudslide proved to be more devastating than they would've hoped for. "It's filled with a lot of different types of people from all backgrounds".

Triggered by heavy rains, the massive slides struck before dawn on Tuesday, local time.

Benitez lived with her sister-in-law, Marilyn Ramos, 27, who was asleep with her daughter, Kaelly, three, when mud crashed through their Montecito rental home, carrying both to their deaths.

Anderson says there are reports of injuries, but she didn't immediately know how many or the extent.

Members of the Ventura County Fire Department happened to be in the area, too, and Oprah gave them some camera time to update all of us on the status of their rescue mission.

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Winfrey also shared an up-close-and-personal look at the devastation on her property from the disaster.

Winfrey, fresh off a Golden Globes speech that inspired calls for her to run for president, posted Instagram photos of the shin-deep mud in her yard and video of rescue helicopters flying overhead. She saw that the "sky seemed like it was on fire".

"Where I am now, which is the east side of my property, I was walking down here and all of my neighbours' homes are gutted", said Oprah.

"This room is always so full of positivity and love and today, I really need it", the comedian told her audience.

"I walked out back, you know, where we share a fence line and the neighbours out back they're houses are gone".

Tom Oschner, who had come to check on the remains of his sister's house said the destruction was devastating. The Associated Press described a "torrent of mud, trees and boulders that flowed down a fire-scarred mountain and slammed" into Montecito in Santa Barbara County Jan. 9.

The media maven endured minimal home damage compared to other residents, but her heart went out to those who are missing or lost relatives in the mudslide.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire recorded in state history, was officially 100 percent contained, confirmed by aerial surveys of the charred 440-square-mile area.

"Who would've expected we have this devastation again with the mudslides, and so soon?"

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