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Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey talk about deadly mudslides

14 January 2018, 08:23 | Taylor George

The 101 Freeway is flooded with mud and debris at Olive Mill Road in Montecito

The 101 Freeway is flooded with mud and debris at Olive Mill Road in Montecito

Heavy rains trigged the mudslides in an area ravaged a month before by wildfires.

Montecito is home to many Hollywood stars, and they were feeling the pain. A huge police presence keeps out both residents and looters.

"We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone", Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, said.

"This is how deep the mud is", Winfrey can be heard saying on the video.

Santa Barbara fire Captain Gary Pitney said the likelihood is increasing that rescue crews will be finding bodies instead of survivors at this point.

This Aug. 23, 2015 photo provided by Jennifer Ramos Tapia shows her sister, Marilyn Ramos, 27, at her family's home in Montecito, Calif.

"I flew over the area this morning, and there's about three-quarters to a mile of water", said Capt. Cindy Pontes, of the California Highway Patrol.

"I think I'd like to stay out of their way", she said.

Oprah made some posts on Instagram saying her property faced minor damages (like a torn out fence), but nothing in comparison to her neighbors.

For others, the grim reality was just beginning as workmen dug through the debris.

The destruction covered 78 square km, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

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"They are hopeful that we will still recover live victims out there", said Amber Anderson, public information officer for the multi-agency response team. "You have to start accepting the reality of that".

The 17 victims range in age from 3 to 89, all residents of the scenic coastal community northwest of Los Angeles. He died with his wife of more than 50 years, Alice.

Richard Taylor, a retired English professor, and his 6-year-old stepgrandson, Peerawat Sutthithepa, were also among the dead in Montecito, according to his brother Marshall Taylor. "The flash flood is right there!" Five people are still considered to be "actively missing", Sheriff Bill Brown said Friday.

Brown said Thursday that they have a list of 48 missing individuals, some of which are active cases and some are from calls to the Emergency Operations Center and Family Assistance Center. The home's garage was destroyed and the cars were swept away.

A few streets away, Abbe and Gary Shaw counted their blessings.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people. Like many, the couple described hearing explosions during the slide as gas lines ruptured and exploded.

He said he regretted not forcing his elderly parents to evacuate. And that is why when officials order an evacuation you should pay close attention.

"Oh Lord, I am praying for the sweet town of Montecito".

"We know the area intimately", he said. "What would we have done with the animals?"

The floods from torrential rains earlier this week wreaked more havoc in terms of human lives lost than the Thomas fire, although one could argue that the flooding was directly due to scorched land in the fire's wake, so is therefore part of a string of related events. Then the mudslide hit. "Until that window is closed completely, we're doing every search like it's the first time the area's been searched".

The statement says Riskin was an "exceptional woman" who had exuded strength, grace and elegance.



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