Oprah is caught in devastating California mudslide: Sixteen dead as talkshow legend’s $50m estate is overwhelmed by knee-deep mud and Jimmy Connors is evacuated from his mansion by helicopter

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
By Paul Martin

Up to 16 people died in southern California after downpours caused mudslides northwest of Los Angeles
Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, a wealthy neighborhood of about 9,000 people
The enclave is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe, Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Connors
Winfrey’s home survived the storms, but she shared videos of knee-deep mud in her yard and rescue missions
Former tennis star Connors told his Twitter followers that he had to be evacuated from his home by helicopter
Rescue crews used helicopters to pluck more than 50 people who were trapped in homes and on rooftops
The Critical coastal highway US 101 was shut down for 30-mile stretch from Ventura to Santa Barbara

10 January 2018

Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and tennis legend Jimmy Connors are among the thousands who have been affected by flash flooding and mudslides in southern California that have already left 16 people dead.

Multiple bodies were found during the rescue operations on Tuesday in Montecito, 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, after downpours sent mud and boulders roaring down hills that were stripped of vegetation by a gigantic wildfire that raged in the state in December.

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.

The first confirmed death was Roy Rohter, a former real estate broker who founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura. The Catholic school’s headmaster, Michael Van Hecke, announced the death and said Rohter’s wife was injured by the mudslide.

At least 25 people were injured in the mudslides and others were unaccounted for as of Tuesday.

Winfrey’s home survived the storms, but she shared a number of videos on Instagram showing the knee-deep mud in her yard, a gas fire nearby and helicopters rescuing her neighbors.

‘What a day!’ she said on the social media site as she filmed from her $50million esate in Montecito. ‘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. Helicopters rescuing my neighbors. Looking for missing persons.’

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