Death toll from California mudslide rises to 17


It's unclear whether the baby has been reunited with her family. Twenty had "storm-related injuries" and four were critically hurt.

"The best way I can describe it is, it looked like a World War One battlefield", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

It is truly devastating to see so many people who undoubtedly suffered through the recent wildfires now have to struggle through record mudslides.

The death toll from a mudslide in California rose to at least 17 people on Wednesday as rescue crews continued to search for another 17 missing people.

Crews performed at least 50 rescues to save people trapped in vehicles and buildings.

Oprah Winfrey's property in Santa Barbara, Calif., is one of the many homes damaged by deadly mudslides and flash floods in the area.

This storm dumped more than five inches of rainfall north of Ojai in the Thomas Fire burn area, the National Weather Service in Los Angeles reported.

A 14-year-old girl was found alive after firefighters using rescue dogs heard cries for help from what was left of her Montecito home, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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As of Wednesday morning, 15 were dead and 25 injured as a result of the mudslides, with the majority of casualties in Montecito, USA Today reports.

DeGeneres Facetimed with her neighbor Oprah Winfrey, who earlier this week shared images of the destruction near her home.

The US Coast Guard has sent "multiple airships to support rescue operations" and warned the public not to fly drones, otherwise the flights would be grounded.

She added, "I think the county did what it could issuing evacuation orders yesterday".

Power failures have affected more than 6,000 homes and businesses in the area, with that many parts of Montecito without drinkable water.

Several major roads were buried beneath tons of mud, including the 101 Freeway. The fires burned away grass and shrubs that hold the soil in place and also baked a waxy layer into the earth that prevents water from sinking deeply into the ground.

"Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where unsafe mud and debris flows are possible", said the National Weather Service in a statement.