Flash flooding and mudslides overcame southern California sweeping over thousands of people’s homes and reportedly up to 16 people have been declared dead.
Oprah Winfrey’s community is one of the effected areas.
Bodies were found during search and rescue operations on Tuesday in the city of Montecito. After wildfires stripped the area of its vegetation back in December, the heavy downpours made it easy for mud and boulders to slide down the hills.
Via the Daily Mail: Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres. One person was also killed in a weather-related fatality in Los Angeles County.
Mudslides slammed into homes, covered highways and swept away vehicles early on Tuesday when more than a half-inch (1.5cm) of rain fell in five minutes, a rate that far exceeds the normal flash flood threshold.
Officials said during a press conference on Tuesday that the death toll was 13. Santa Barbara County CEO Mona Miyasato emailed her staff shortly after so say the number had increased to 16, the Santa Barbara Independent reported.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered to 7,000 residents in Santa Barbara County before the rains came Tuesday and an additional 23,000 were asked to leave voluntarily, which many did not.