A group of around 300 people were reportedly trapped in Romero Canyon, east of Santa Barbara.
Walking through her backyard in almost knee-deep mud, Winfrey posted a video to Instagram writing: "Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara". Mudflows traveled through neighborhoods near where Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have homes.
As of Thursday, January 11, it's been confirmed that 17 people are dead and 8 more are missing.
The body count as of Wednesday was 15, with 25 reported injured and 50 having to be rescued.
They were assisted by firefighters and search-and-rescue teams who continued to try to account for the missing.
"Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that emergency services are now ". focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged".
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The death toll climbed as AP reported that the "vast majority" of those under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders stayed in their in Montecito homes, 100 of which were subsequently destroyed.
"It looked like a World War I battlefield", Brown said of the destruction.
The 17 victims were killed when a devastating mudslide occurred in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, early Tuesday morning after a heavy downpour struck areas burned by the huge so-called Thomas Fire that scorched hillsides last month, officials said.
Thomas Tighe said he stepped outside his Montecito home in the middle of the night after hearing the "deep rumblling" sound of boulders moving as mud levels rose.
Over 500 search and rescue personnel were deployed to the area, as well as 10 search dogs who play a vital role in the mud-impacted areas.
With many roads blocked, rescue crews used helicopters to pluck people from their rooftops.
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DeGeneres said on her talk show on Thursday that the picturesque town of 9,000 is a "tight-knit" community.
A 14-year-old girl covered in mud was rescued on Tuesday, after being trapped for several hours in a collapsed house in Montecito.
One such resident, Marco Farrell, 45, called the slide more frightening than the "biggest, scariest, horrifying monster you've ever dreamed of". The Santa Barbara County Sheriff Office did not immediately comment.
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.
"We would have evacuated", she said.
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