It was so incredibly harrowing", said Brian O'Dea, author of "High: "Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler". Kelly Weimer, whose parents were killed when their Montecito home was swept away by flash floods, said they "were in a voluntary evacuation area so they figured they were OK". They also created the ideal conditions for the devastating mudslides that followed.
O'Dea, originally from St. John's, was jailed as a young man for drug smuggling, but is now an author, film and television producer.
DeGeneres Facetimed with her neighbor Oprah Winfrey, who earlier this week shared images of the destruction near her home.
'There was evacuation fatigue from the fire, ' Farrell said.
"At this moment, we are still looking for live victims", Santa Barbara fire Captain Gary Pitney said.
The deluge - which struck Montecito after powerful rainstorms - overturned cars, uprooted trees and sent boulders crashing into homes in the valley below. I mean, it was apocalyptic.More news: Why young, healthy people are dying from the flu this season
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"Two cars were missing from his driveway and he watched two others slowly move sideways down the middle of the street 'in a river of mud'".
Tracy Jo Brewer is reunited with her son who went to help rescue people on Tuesday night and was unable to get back to his mom until today. "Just gone. So it is as devastating as it can be". "That is why we have the canines to help us assist in those efforts to either sniff out or guide us to areas potentially that could have other people that need assistance and rescue". "Helicopters rescued some people who climbed onto the roofs of their homes to escape the torrent of water, and mud". With no vegetation left to absorb the rain, the slides came quickly amid a torrential downpour. But county emergency manager Jeff Gater said officials decided not to use the cellphone push alert system until 3:50 a.m. Tuesday out of concern it might not be taken seriously.
But as rescue and fix crews continue their work, they said "the full extent of the damage is still unknown".
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office issued a plea to the public to provide information about the missing people, while acknowledging that finding survivors would be a "miracle".
"But we're going to do what we do. I'm really flabbergasted to imagine how they're going to survive this rainy season", he said.