Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Oprah Winfrey Films Herself Wading Through Mudslide at Montecito Mansion

Oprah Winfrey Films Herself Wading Through Mudslide at Montecito Mansion

Hundreds of first responders in Santa Barbara County waded through waist-high mud while others flew over the devastation searching for survivors.

In one story that details the extent of the scenes, one rescue worker who thought he was picking up a "muddy doll" from the debris discovered it was actually a toddler.

"I work in L.A. but I consider Montecito my home", she said.

"The key factors that make Southern California really susceptible to this kind of threat is that the mountains are tectonically active, so they're actively moving up", he tells O'Dowd. Johnson dug through four feet of mud before they discovered the child, who was later taken to the hospital for treatment.

But only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of people in a mandatory evacuation area of Santa Barbara County heeded the warning, authorities said. The death toll rose on Wednesday afternoon after two more bodies were found.

The search was set to expand with the arrival of a major search-and-rescue team from nearby Los Angeles County and help from the Coast Guard and the National Guard.

"That's a fear. We are still very hopeful that we will locate people alive", he added. "We think somewhere in the debris field".

"Last time he saw her was holding onto the door", said Hayden. "I was frozen yesterday morning thinking, 'This is a million times worse than that fire ever was'". Some homes were destroyed by the mudslides.

The December wildfires burned away hectares of brush and vegetation that normally would have soaked up heavy rainfall in the hills north of Los Angeles.

The mudslide ruptured a gas line and caused some fires, fire officials said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the risk of flooding stays "significantly higher" for up to five years after a wildfire.

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

"If they had", said Blum when referring to county officials, "they would've known where the water was going to go".

The mud and debris overwhelmed many homes and wiped some of them out.

The slide also caused a "significant" gas leak, and fix efforts left homes on the street with no gas, electricity or water.

Celebrities who have properties in the area have also been affected.

Santa Barbara County authorities said Thursday afternoon up to 43 people are missing as a result of the mudslides this week in the Montecito area.

The catastrophic debris flow struck the Montecito area around 4 a.m. (7 a.m. ET) Tuesday, Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor said.

"We don't know how many additional people are still trapped", Brown said.

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