Emotional Ellen DeGeneres holds back tears as she FaceTimes Oprah in Montecito and describes how she fled her home with wife Portia de Rossi before devastating mudslides hit
- Ellen De Generes and her wife Portia de Rossi were ordered to evacuate their $40m Montecito home Monday
- Ellen, 59, held back tears as she spoke of the devastation to the community on her show on Thursday
- She FaceTimed Oprah Winfrey who was still in the area and is not allowed to leave her $50million estate
- Aerial images showed both DeGeneres' home and Oprah's estate largely escaped the flooding unscathed
- Oprah's home is on a knoll but the houses around it on lower ground have all been destroyed
- 17 people were killed and another 8 are still missing after mudslides destroyed 100 homes and damaged 300
Ellen revealed she and her wife Portia de Rossi were advised to leave their $40million Montecito estate, which appears to have escaped largely unscathed from the devastating floods.
Eight people are still missing, 100 homes have been destroyed and another 300 damaged after heavy rains on hills stripped of vegetation by the Thomas wildfire sent tons of soil and rocks barreling towards homes.
On Thursday, DeGeneres FaceTimed Oprah Winfrey, who remains at her $50million estate and cannot leave, and told how she and her wife fled on Monday night after being given an evacuation order.
'Usually, we're grateful for rain, especially in California, but not after the largest fire in the history of California.
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Ellen DeGeneres FaceTimed Oprah on her show on Thursday to discuss the devastation in Montecito where both talk show hosts have multi-million dollar homes. Oprah is still there and is now allowed to leave but DeGeneres fled on Monday night with her wife Portia De Rossi and their dogs
Ellen DeGeneres shared this image of her street in Montecito which was hit by mudslides before recounting how she and her wife were forced to flee their home
Aerial shots of the $40million property she shares with wife Portia de Rossi shows it has largely escaped damage
'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.'
DeGeneres' home was in a mandatory evacuation zone. She and her wife fled on Monday night with their dogs.
Winfrey's home is in a voluntary evacuation zone. She remained there on the advice of firefighters who said she would be safe because it was on higher ground.
On Thursday, Winfrey told DeGeneres how she woke up at 3.40am on Tuesday, not long after returning from the Golden Globes, to see a fire on the hillside which was caused by a gas explosion.
At first, she said, she was unaware of the mudslides.
'The dogs were were barking, I wake up and I can't believe that the sky seems like it's on fire. It's 3.40 in the morning, I say, "Stedman, oh my God. Something's going on."
'We get up and he says,"Well, we can't do anything about that."
'I run to the front and I see it is actually, the mountain looks like it's on fire. I didn't know it at the time that there was some gas fire, something exploded so that explained what was going on and at the same time I didn't know that the mudslides were occurring.'
Once day broke, she went outside 'in her boots' and that is when she realized how grave the devastation was.
'The next day, everyone was saying to me how is your property? I'm looking out the front window and I'm like 'everythinG's fine, everything's fine. It wasn't until I put my boots on and went outside walking that I realized everything wasn't indeed fine.
'It wasn't fine at all.'
Ellen watched as Oprah, her neighbor, showed her and her studio audience the damage in the area where she is now stuck
Where fences and a walls once stood is now a sea of mud, the talk show host said. This was taken on ground near Oprah's estate which was also largely unharmed
Oprah has been allowed to remain in her home but she has no running water or gas, she said.
'I feel safe. I am blessed and I'm going to do whatever I can for the rest of the community. We've lost so many lives and it's such a tiny little community. Nobody would have expected, after we survived the fire and the rain came, we would have expected that we would have had this devastation with the mudslides and so soon,' she said.
Aerial images have captured the devastation caused to the neighborhood where the couple live alongside neighbors including Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow.
She showed her audience a picture of the street in front of her home, showed fallen trees covered with mud.
On Twitter, she wrote alongside the image: 'I don't know anything about our house yet.
'I'm heartbroken for the community of Montecito. I'm devastated for the families who lost loved ones. I'm grateful to all the rescue workers. Please send love to Montecito.'
And as she continued to share her love for the town she considers home, she became emotional.
'If you've never been there, Montecito is a small town. It's less than 10,000 people, it has two public schools, family-owned businesses. It's a tight-knit community so everyone kind of knows everyone.
'I work in LA, but I consider Montecito my home.'
She added: 'It's not just a wealthy community, it's filled with a lot of different types of people from all backgrounds.
'And there are families missing, there are people who are missing family members.
'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 recognisable.'
The death toll from Tuesday's pre-dawn flash flood rose to 17 on Wednesday. An aerial shot shows the devastation to Montecito
Oprah was allowed to remain at her mansion (pictured above) in Montecito because it is located on a knoll, she said
Talent agent Scooter Braun, who represents the stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, has also been affected by the mudslides
Oprah shared a video to her Instagram to let her followers know she was safe and showed the damage to her property
Mudslides in Southern California on Tuesday destroyed over a 100 houses, swept cars to the beach and left at least 17 people dead
Talent agent Scooter Braun, who represents the stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, has also been affected by the mudslides. Braun, who also owns labels School Boy Records and Raymond-Braun Media Group, shared a photo of the rivers of mud and devastation in his neighborhood on Instagram today.
He revealed he still doesn't know what state his property is in, but said the situation in Montecito is 'heartbreaking.'
'4 years ago my wife and I bought our dream home in montecito and hoped to get married there,' he wrote. 'We spent over 2 years slowly restoring our home to what is now our favorite place on earth.
'To see what it is going through now is heartbreaking. We had just made it through the largest fire in California history and now this.
'We still don’t know what has become of our home but honestly it is the last thing on our mind. Lives have been destroyed. Family members have been lost. I don’t know what we can do yet but where we can help we will. In the meantime our prayers are with all those in Santa Barbara.'
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for 7,000 people living above Montecito, while voluntary evacuations were ordered for 23,000 others further down where officials did not expect the mudslides to reach.
Hundreds of thousands of email warnings and social media posts were also put out, but up to 90 per cent of people remained in place in the belief that authorities were being over-cautious following the wildfires.
On Thursday, hundreds of searchers continued the grueling work of hunting for survivors and digging up bodies in the sea of mud and wreckage left by flash flooding.
There was panic when early in the morning, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said 48 people were missing.
They later corrected the mistake to say only eight were still unaccounted for and blamed the mistake on a 'clerical error'.
Damage from mud, boulders, and debris destroyed homes that lined Montecito Creek near East Valley Road in Montecito
Rescue crews searched grimy debris and ruins for the missing after the mudslides
The death toll from Tuesday's pre-dawn flash flood rose to 17 on Wednesday as more bodies were found. Another eight were still reported missing.
Muck-spattered searchers from around the state slogged through knee-deep ooze, poking long poles into the mud to probe for victims in the wealthy enclave of 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles.
Search dogs clambered on shattered heaps of wood that used to be homes.
However, the flood left the town strewn with mud, boulders, wrecked cars, trashed buildings and tree limbs in a scene that Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has compared to a World War I battlefield.
By Wednesday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 percent of the inundated area, authorities said.
An aerial shot over downtown Montecito shows damage after mudslides hit on Tuesday
'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.
'The mud is acting like a candy shell on ice cream. It's crusty on top but soft underneath, so we're having to be very careful.'
A dozen people were hospitalized at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and four were in critical condition, Dr. Brett Wilson said.
People in Montecito had counted themselves lucky last month after the biggest wildfire in California history spared the town.
But it was the fire that led to the mudslide, by burning away vegetation.
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