California man recounts last moments before losing life partner in mudslide

Eight people are still missing and rescuers have been working around the clock to try to find any survivors after a wall of mud tore down hillsides two days ago in the scenic area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest.

"Rescue crews have managed to clear the roadways to free the 300 residence that have been trapped since Tuesday in Romero Canyon", Eliason added.

Similar issues emerged in last year's wine country wildfires in Northern California, where at times thousands were reported missing, the overwhelming majority simply people whose communication with friends and family had been cut off by the fires.

"We realise that this is going to be a long and hard journey for all of us and our community", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters at a late afternoon news conference.

At least 15 people were confirmed dead, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Yaneris Muniz said early Wednesday as the search continued through the night.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who has been touted this week as a possible 2020 candidate for the White House, was among those affected by the mudslides.

"We knew we couldn't put out a WEA when we were doing the evacuation orders and warnings because it would've gone out to the entire county, would've caused great confusion", Lewin said.

California authorities say 100 single-family homes were destroyed in the flash-floods that struck Montecito and adjacent areas of Santa Barbara County.

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On Thursday morning, a spokesperson reported that 48 people were missing, but that number was wrong and due to a clerical error, according to the Associated Press. "Many chose to stay in place", said Brown.

Roads were clogged throughout the region with mudflows shutting down more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the 101 Freeway on Tuesday and knocking a number of homes from their foundations.

DeGeneres took to Twitter to ask for support for her community.

Oprah Winfrey's home sustained minor damage after a major mudslide hit southern California.

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Power outages are affecting over 6,000 homes and businesses, primarily in the Montecito area. She was pulled from a collapsed Montecito home where she had been trapped for hours.

Highway 101 remains closed from Highway 150 in Carpinteria to Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. "(I'm) devastated", she said in a video shared to Instagram Wednesday.

The area, northwest of Los Angeles, is home to many celebrities and other wealthy Californians who relish the seclusion and relative proximity to the city.

"While some residents cooperated with the evacuations, many did not".

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