Oprah's Property Damaged by Deadly California Mudslides

Among the hardest areas is Montecito, where Winfrey has a 26ha estate.

More than 1,200 personnel are now assigned to the incident area, which covers 30 square miles, according to a Cal Fire spokesperson. Seventeen people dead, 28 injured, eight missing.

Oprah's home was safe, due to its location on a hill, but many others were damaged. Fourteen helicopters and four water rescue teams were aiding the effort.

They slogged through ooze and poked long holes into the mud on Wednesday as they searched for victims a day after the massive debris flow passed through.

Josie Gower was a mother of two, a grandmother and a retired nurse, her family said. "Literally. Ran for my life".

But a creek that feeds the Pacific Ocean swelled early Tuesday morning, raining boulders and flood waters onto residents as they slept. About a block up from Farrell's home, firefighters were helping Devon Crail and his wife, Tiare, retrieve items from his parents' house. I work in LA, but I consider Montecito my home.

Mr Johnson told the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper that the pair joined a fireman to dig the toddler out, before scooping mud out of her mouth.

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"First we got burned out at our ranch that caught on fire and now we're flooding, so the last month has been pretty bad", said Charles Stoops, as he stood in front of his house, which was surrounded in mud 3 feet deep, or almost a meter. I'm hoping it's okay. He says the baby was immediately taken to a hospital.

"After everything we have been through, I think a lot of people thought they were just being overly cautious, but exactly what they feared happened". Burned-over zones are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth doesn't absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs.

[I] ntense wildfires transform rich soil into a dense, water-repellent surface.

The death toll from Tuesday's pre-dawn flash flood rose to 17 as more bodies were found.

Jim and Alice Mitchell moved into their dream retirement home in Santa Barbara County in 1999 and chose to stay there to celebrate Jim's 89th birthday Tuesday, only to be swept away by raging floodwaters, along with their home and their maltipoo named Gigi, their family told NBC news today.

Another contributing factor is that alerts about potential mudslides did not go out until the flows began.

Residents in some areas were subject to a new mandatory evacuation on Friday, emergency officials said, adding the unstable environment remained a threat.

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"In disaster circumstances, there have been many miraculous stories of people lasting many days. It was a carpet of mud and debris".

The deadly mudslides that ravaged the town came a month after a massive wildfire drove many residents from their homes and blackened the nearby mountains.

"(But) no storm brings down everything that is susceptible.

Billy Grokenberger lives in a part of Montecito that was under a voluntary evacuation order.

Many residents made a decision to stay.

The television host and comedian said she evacuated from her home during both disasters.

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