Early Tuesday morning, extremely heavy rains in Southern California led to extreme mudslides. Parts of the US Route 101 in Santa Barbara County had to be shut down, and 15 people tragically perished.
The fire officials conducted "multiple rescues" in Montecito after the floods and debris swept through the freeway. The mudslides left a path of destruction through Montecito, which is home to many celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe, and Ellen DeGeneres.
A majority of the 15 recorded deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos said. The town has approximately 9,000 people, and it sustained heavy damage after mudslides "slammed into homes, covered highways, and swept away vehicles," says Fox.
Television mogul and potential 2020 presidential hopeful Oprah Winfrey's home was in the path. It survived the rainstorm and ensuing mudslides. In an Instagram post, Oprah shared photos of the deep mud in her backyard. She also included a video of rescue helicopters hovering over her house.
"What a day! Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara. Woke up to this blazing gas fire. then swipe left to see how deep the mud is in my backyard," she wrote. "Helicopters rescuing my neighbors. Looking for missing persons. 13 lives lost. #Mudslides."
Later, Winfrey made a second post. In it, she was seen describing some of the damage to her property.
"Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern. My property is fine," she wrote. "Some mud, and minor damage that pales in comparison to what my neighbors are going thru. #mudslides."
Actor Rob Lowe also calls Montecito home. He wrote on Twitter that he was "mourning the dead in our little town tonight." He previously posted that he was under mandatory evacuation, sharing a photo of his dog.
"Praying for the survivors and preparing for whatever may come. #Montecito," he wrote.
Lowe also took the time to comment on Oprah's nearby home. He commented on all of the media speculation surrounding a possible 2020 run against Donald Trump.
"Media talking about @OPRAH “maybe” running for President in 3 years. Meanwhile, AS WE SPEAK, her Montecito home’s a staging ground for helicopter rescues. Priorities? Anyone?"
Ellen DeGeneres was also impacted by the storm. She shared a picture on Twitter of the flooding on the 101 freeway in Montecito.
"This is not a river. This is the 101 freeway in my neighborhood right now. Montecito needs your love and support."
Later she tweeted about her home. She said she didn't know if her home was ok or not.
"This is the street in front of our house. I don’t know anything about our house yet. I’m heartbroken for our community of Montecito. I’m devastated for the families who lost loved ones. I’m grateful to all the rescue workers. Please send love to Montecito."
Officials said that at least 21,000 people have been evacuated as a result of the mudslides, reported Fox. The evacuations were ordered because the mudslides threatened the communities beneath the foothills.
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