Oprah Winfrey Films Herself Wading Through Mudslide at Montecito Mansion

  • Oprah Winfrey Films Herself Wading Through Mudslide at Montecito Mansion

Oprah Winfrey Films Herself Wading Through Mudslide at Montecito Mansion

Search and rescue efforts have been slow as crews have had to make their way through waist-deep mud, fallen trees, boulders and other debris. "Realistically we suspect we are going to have the discovery of more people killed in this incident", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Thursday news briefing, adding that he was hoping to find "miracle" survivors.

"We were all exhausted of it", said Montecito resident David Cradduck, 66, who stayed.

After a wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil create a water repellent layer which blocks water absorption.

Authorities expected heavy rain but said the downpour was much worse than expected. The region is susceptible to debris flow according to the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, which issued flash flood warnings ahead of the storm. "It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere". It can damage or destroy roadways, bridges, culverts and buildings even miles away from the burned area.

A 14-year-old girl covered in mud was rescued on Tuesday, after being trapped for several hours in a collapsed house in Montecito.

The flooding comes just weeks after the Thomas fire burned almost 282,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, stripping hillsides of vegetation needed to stem water runoff during rainstorms. Teams have completed initial searches of the entire debris field and are about a quarter of the way through a more intensive secondary search of the zone, Anderson said.

"They're finding people and bodies and I mean, you hear the word mudslide and you have no idea the impact that it has, but after the largest fire in California history, it's catastrophic".

Karson, reporting for NPR from Pasadena, Calif., said the mudflows above Montecito were so powerful they ripped some homes off their foundations.

Controversy over the use of wireless emergency alerts during disasters emerged in California in October when a wildfire ripped through Sonoma County, killing 40 people.

Most of the devastation has occurred in and around Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres.

Mud fills the interior of a auto destroyed in a rain-driven mudslide in a neighborhood under mandatory evacuation in Burbank. Meanwhile, eight commercial structures were destroyed and 20 commercial structures were damaged, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The number of missing has fluctuated as people were located, said the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office.