17 dead and 300 homes damaged in California mudslides

A semi-trailer sits stuck in mud on US Highway 101 in Montecito California

In Santa Barbara County, a total of 100 homes were destroyed and 300 homes damaged by the mudslides, Eliason said, adding that eight commercial properties were also destroyed and 20 damaged.

On Tuesday, Brown told reporters that the scenes "looked like a World War I battlefield".

"Many people have been evacuated from their homes as a result of the flooding", Lara Cooper, a reporter for Direct Relief, wrote in a statement.

The 101 Freeway in parts of Montecito and Santa Barbara, will remain closed for at least 48 hours after muddy, debris-filled water flooded parts of the seaside roadway, according to Capt. Cindy Pontes with the California Highway Patrol.

Numerous locations hardest hit by the torrents had previously been devastated by the worst wildfire in California history, increasing worries about the possibility of mudslides in the freshly burned areas.

Winfrey said she was "praying for our community again in Santa Barbara" as she posted a video on Instagram showing the depth of mud outside her home.

On Friday, the estimated number of missing people was down to five, after an estimate of 43 on Thursday.

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A 14-year-old girl was one of several people rescued by firefighters who fanned out across a flood-ravaged Santa Barbara County community after a night of powerful downpours and mudslides.

At least 13 people were confirmed dead on Tuesday, at least 25 were injured and at least 50 had to be rescued by helicopters.

The area, sandwiched between the ocean and the sprawling Los Padres National Forest, is home to celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, who relish its natural beauty and proximity to sprawling Los Angeles.

The National Weather Service told the publication: "Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where risky mud and debris flows are possible".

"We've gotten multiple reports of rescuers falling through manholes that were covered with mud, swimming pools that were covered up with mud", said Anthony Buzzerio, a Los Angeles County fire battalion chief.

Rescue crews worked to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a key stretch of USA 101 that was brought to a standstill along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

This follows last month's wildfires in Southern California, which were intensified by the Santa Ana winds.

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