The heavy rains that spawned mudslides in Southern California on Tuesday ─ killing at least 17 people ─ left a path of destruction in a wealthy enclave that's home to celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres.
Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos said. The town of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles sustained heavy damage after mudslides slammed into homes, covered highways and swept away vehicles.
Television mogul Winfrey's home survived the rainstorm and ensuing mudslides. In a post on Instagram, she shared photos of the deep mud in her backyard and 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."
In a separate Instagram post, Winfrey 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, who also has a home in Montecito, wrote on Twitter he was "mourning the dead in our little town tonight" and previously posted he was under mandatory evacuation.
"Praying for the survivors and preparing for whatever may come. #Montecito," he wrote.
He also referenced Winfrey's home nearby in another post, addressing recent speculation that she might run for president in 2020 after her much-talked-about speech at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday.
"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?" he wrote on Twitter.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres shared a picture on Twitter of the flooding on the 101 Freeway in Montecito, writing: "This is not a river. This is the 101 freeway in my neighborhood right now. Montecito needs your love and support."
DeGeneres also addressed the mudslides during her show on Thursday. After she and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, were evacuated due to the Thomas Fire in December, DeGeneres said that they were evacuated again due to the mudslides.
“Sunday night, Portia and I got a call that we’re under mandatory evacuation again with most of the community of Montecito. So again, we evacuated because they feared mudslides. After everything we’ve been through I think a lot of people thought they were just being overly cautious, but exactly what they feared happened. The rain triggered massive mudslides. Massive. That is the 101. That is a highway and it is 30 miles long. That’s happening – 30 miles of mud,” she 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. It is beyond recognizable,” she added.
NFL star Troy Aikman also took to Instagram to speak out.
"Montecito has been a special place for me and my family for many years but it’s a place that’s been hit hard in recent weeks," he wrote. "My prayers are with all of those impacted by the latest mudslides."
The deadly mudslides also affected the hometown of models Bella and Gigi Hadid, who said in separate posts on Twitter and Instagram they "really can't believe it" and urged followers to "keep the families of Santa Barbara in your thoughts and prayers."
The mudslides are the result of a powerful rainstorm that hit the state’s southern region on Monday, sending mud and leftover debris down hillsides that were burned by the Thomas Fire.
The Thomas Fire, which is technically still burning, is the largest wildfire California has seen since detailed record-keeping began in the 1930s. It began on Dec. 4.
Officials said that at least 21,000 people have been evacuated as a result of the mudslides, The Associated Press reported. The evacuations were ordered because the mudslides threatened the communities beneath the foothills.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.