17 dead and 300 homes damaged in California mudslides

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Santa Barbara County Fire Department

At least eight people are missing on January 11 after mudslides and boulders destroyed homes in Santa Barbara County, reports CNN.

"We are still very much in active search-and-rescue mode", said Chris Elms, a spokesman for state firefighters, adding that the number of fatalities could rise as searches progressed.

Dozens of stranded residents have been rescued by helicopter in areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties - some from their vehicles and others from rooftops. They are now refocusing their efforts to raise money for victims of both disasters.

The search for the missing - whose numbers are uncertain - was to continue through the night and then intensify after daylight yesterday, authorities said.

Mudslides particularly affected wealthy areas such as Montecito and Santa Barbara, where many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, have homes.

The former talk-show host, whose Golden Globes speech spurred chatter about a 2020 run, shared a video montage to her Instagram account depicting damage done to her 65-acre Santa Barbara County property, People magazine reported.

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Mr Johnson said he and his wife, Karen, heard a baby crying after the flooding had subsided and they managed to climb down from the roof of their swamped home.

People whose homes survived the Thomas Fire are now faced with this: impassable roads, homes, and driveways covered in mud.

"What a day!" Winfrey said.

Berkeley Johnson said the two-year-old girl was taken to hospital and suffered an injury to her hip.

Officials have ordered residents in a large swath of Montecito to stay in their homes so that rescuers can better go about their work. With the wildfires leaving behind a waxy layer of debris that made it hard for water to infiltrate the ground, the downpour caused flash floods in the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains.

The torrent arrived suddenly and with a sound some likened to a freight train as water carrying rocks and trees washed away cars and trashed homes. The Weather Channel now reports that the death toll has officially reached 15 people (including a baby buried under feet of mud), and that number is expected to grow. He was not sure who it was.

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