Mudslide In California Kills 13, Affects Oprah's House

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The emergency alert, similar to an Amber Alert for children, was sent early Tuesday to cellphones in the area that were registered to people under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders. "I think all of us have learned our lessons on this one".

She stood in mud as she said she was "devastated" by the damage to her neighbour's house.

Rescue teams from across the state have been relentlessly working to free those still trapped under the mud, boulders and debris, but several new areas could now be at risk.

Southern California can not catch a break, as fallout from half a dozen historically destructive wildfires continues with this week's widespread flash flooding occurring in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

The upmarket neighbourhood of Montecito is home to celebrities such as actor Rob Lowe, chat show host Ellen DeGeneres and media mogul Oprah Winfrey. "I was frozen yesterday morning thinking, 'This is a million times worse than that fire ever was'". The rains caused a monstrous mudslide that swept everything in its path.

Most of the deaths occurred in and around Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles, as homes were wiped away by mudflows after devastating wildfires left charred hillsides without vegetation cover to hold the deluge.

The heaviest rains have now cleared away from the burn area, and the weather will continue to dry up on Wednesday.

Search efforts are being hampered by a treacherous landscape strewn with boulders and rescuers having to tackle a cement-like mud which reaches shoulder-high in some places. Even though the fire started about a month ago, officials say that they don't expect for it to be fully contained until later in January.

Some homes and businesses in the area still have no power and water service.

Those who have stayed in the area have been warned to boil their tap water before drinking it.

"Another tough day in Santa Barbara County as Search and Rescue, Fire and Law Enforcement personnel from across our county and our neighboring counties searched for survivors and evacuated people", the sheriff's office said on its Twitter feed late Wednesday night.

Emergency helicopters airlifted about 50 people to safety on Tuesday, according to Kevin Taylor of the Montecito Fire Department.

In Carpinteria, near Montecito, a US Coast Guard helicopter crew plucked a family of five, including a newborn, from the roof of a house where mud had flooded the first floor.

"We know that this a terribly inconvenient development, but it is also incredibly necessary", Brown said.

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