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Aerial images show devastation of Montecito mudslides

Aerial images have captured the devastation caused by the deadly mudslides in Southern California that swallowed the upmarket Montecito neighborhood.


These aerial images show the utter devastation caused by the deadly mudslides in Southern California that swallowed the upmarket Montecito neighborhood where the likes of Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Gwyneth Paltrow live.

The death toll climbed to 17 on Wednesday as emergency workers pulled bodies from a river of knee-deep mud and continued to search grimy debris and ruins for the eight people still missing.

Officials say the deluge destroyed 100 houses and damaged 300 others after debris spread across a wide swath of Montecito - a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to a number of high profile celebrities.

Aerial images of the area show that Oprah's $50million estate managed to survive the mudslide. She said her property had suffered some minor damage, but nothing compared to that of her neighbors.

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Aerial images have captured the devastation caused by the deadly mudslides in Southern California that swallowed the upmarket Montecito neighborhood this week

The north and south bound lanes of Highway 101 (above) were swallowed up by mud. The freeway was forced to shut down as cars became submerged in the deluge

Officials say the deluge destroyed 100 houses and damaged 300 others after debris spread across a wide swath of Montecito

Crews from Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit took this photo showing the mud flow and damage in Montecito

Shocking images that captured the area north of Oprah's estate show severely damaged homes that were completely engulfed by the river of mud.

Oprah, who heeded the evacuation warnings and wasn't home at the time, returned to the area on Wednesday as she evaluated the damage in her neighborhood. 

She shared video of her in knee-deep mud and debris as she said a fence had been knocked down and that she was 'devastated' over the damage to her neighbor's home.

Photos of Gwyneth Paltrow's home show a mud-plagued yard with parts of her property clearly damaged. Sections of her awning and veranda appear to have been torn off and a water feature in the center of her yard is now filled with muddy water.

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.'

Other aerials images show the north and south bound lanes of Highway 101 swallowed up by mud. The freeway was forced to shut down as cars became submerged in the deluge.  

Images of the Four Seasons hotel show a muddy moat forming around the property and the tennis courts inundated with mud. 

Oprah's mansion: Aerial images of the area show that Oprah's $50million estate managed to survive the mudslide

Winfrey's estate: Images that captured the area north of Oprah's estate (right of the image above) show severely damaged homes that were completely engulfed by the river of mud

Gwyneth Paltrow: Photos of Gwyneth Paltrow's home show a mud-plagued yard with parts of her property clearly damaged

Paltrow: Sections of her awning and veranda appear to have been torn off and a water feature in the center of her yard is now filled with muddy water

Homes to the north of Oprah's estate were completely engulfed by the mudslides 

Ellen's property: Parts of Ellen Degeneres' home appeared to have been affected by the mudslides

Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a picture of the street outside her Montecito home, adding: 'I am devastated for the families that lost loved ones'

Talent agent Scooter Braun, who represents the stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, has also been affected by the mudslides

Some of the 17 dead and eight missing after the floods. They were spread across the mandatory and voluntary evacuation zones 

The debris was able to rush down on to the community because the hillside vegetation which would have ordinarily impeded it was stripped during the catastrophic wildfires last month.

Residents have now started returning home to assess the damage to their properties.

Along Hot Springs Road, where at least two homes were carried off their foundations, bulldozers cleared muck and debris from areas already searched. 

Utility crews have begun the laborious task of repairing downed power lines and snapped telephone poles. 

Some 500 firefighters and other rescue workers continue the hard task of searching through the debris for survivors.

Helicopters were used to hoist more than 50 people to safety from roofs, where they scrambled to escape the mud or because debris had blocked roads and left them stranded. 

Meanwhile Santa Barbara officials admit they didn't send out flood alerts to cellphones until after the deadly Montecito mudslides had already started.

Jeff Gater, Santa Barbara County's emergency manager, said a text alert was not sent until 3.50am on Tuesday, by which point tons of mud and soil which killed 17 people was already barreling towards homes. 

Gater said the alert system was not used earlier because he was concerned that people wouldn't take it seriously after a slew of similar fire warnings before Christmas.

'If you tell everyone to get out, everyone get out, the next time people won't listen,' he told the LA Times. 'If you cry wolf, people stop listening.' 

The tennis courts at the Four Seasons hotel were engulfed by thick mud

Images of the Four Seasons hotel show a muddy moat forming around the property

The debris was able to rush down on to the community because the hillside vegetation which would have ordinarily impeded it was stripped during the catastrophic wildfires last month

Residents have now started returning home to assess the damage to their properties

Some 500 firefighters and other rescue workers continue the hard task of searching through the debris for survivors

Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled when ordered and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary

At one point, a Coast Guard helicopter rescued a family of five and their two dogs. 

Video shot from the hovering chopper showed a house surrounded by muck and debris as a mother, muddy from the waist down, handed her infant to two rescuers on the roof and then got help onto it. She and her newborn were hoisted to safety, followed by the rest of the family. 

Many residents put themselves in danger by not heeding mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders issued while there was still time to escape.

Emergency services attributed the decision to 'evacuation fatigue' after last month's wildfires which drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. 

Only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of residents fled when ordered and much of the damage occurred where evacuations were voluntary. 

Pictured above is the 101 freeway, which had to be closed down due to a river of mud flowing down both the south and northbound lanes

This area pictured above was majorly affected by the Montecitio mudslides with many of the homes damaged

Bulldozers cleared muck and debris on Wednesday from areas that were already searched by rescue crews

Bulldozers can be seen above trying to clear muck from Hwy 101 on Wednesday

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.

Among those missing following the mudslides are sisters Morgan Corey, 25, and Sawyer Corey, 12. They were asleep in their home with Sawyer's twin sister, Summer, and their mother, Carie Baker, when the mudslide hit early Tuesday morning. 

Baker and Summer Corey were later found by rescue teams and taken to hospital in critical condition. Friends and family have launched a social media search for Saywer and Morgan, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Also missing are elderly couple Alice and Jim Mitchell. The couple, together for more than a half-century, didn’t heed a voluntary evacuation warning and stayed home on Monday to celebrate Jim Mitchell’s 89th birthday. Family said they hoped to find them in a shelter or hospital. 

At least 17 people have died in southern California 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. Oprah Winfrey uploaded a video to Instagram evaluating the damage in her yard

This home in Montecito was ripped apart by the devastating mudslides that hit late Monday

A resident checks a mud inundated home after heavy rains caused deadly mudslides in Montecito

An abandoned van outside a home in Sun Valley, California, on Wednesday 

THE VICTIMS OF THE MONTECITO MUDSLIDES 

Roy Rohter 

Rohter was swept away from his home along with his wife Theresa in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Theresa was rescued from the mud and was taken to hospital.  

His death was confirmed by St. Augustine Academy in Ventura which he founded in 1994.  

David Cantin, 49 

Cantin died being swept away from his home along with his teenage son.

His daughter Lauren was filmed being rescued by firefighters from their home after they heard her screaming from the wreckage. 

Roy Rohter, left, was swept away from his home with his wife. She survived but he was later found dead. Dave Cantin, 49, (right) was swept away with his son who survived. Dave was later confirmed dead 

One of the dead was not killed in Montecito but died in Los Angeles County. 

Authorities said that person's death was caused by the severe weather but they have not revealed how they died. 

There are 24 people still missing and the death toll is expected to rise as authorities continue to recover bodies from the mud. 

Rebecca Riskin, 61

Riskin, 61, a real estate agent and founder of Riskin Partners, and her two dogs were also killed when the mud swept down Glenoaks Boulevard. 

Riskin's death was confirmed by HER real estate agency on Wednesday. 

Her frantic daughter said she was missing along with her dogs on Tuesday.  

Neighbors have since told how they had to be rescued from her roof to survive as the slides swept over their homes. 

Rebecca Riskin, 61, and Josie Gower, 69, were both confirmed dead on Wednesday 

Josie Gower, 69 

Jonathan Benitez, nine, died after being swept from his home 

Retired nurse Josie Gower was confirmed dead by friends on social media on Wednesday after a frantic 24 hour search for her. 

They revealed that her body was carried 'several miles' by the river of mud which rushed through the town. 

'Heartbreaking loss as we learned that she was taken from us by the muddy floodwaters and swept downhill for several miles,' one friend said.

She is believed to have died along with her dog. 

Friends and family had been appealing for information of Josie's whereabouts on social media. 

Jonathan Benitez, nine

Jonathan was swept from his home along with his mother, Fabiola, who is missing.

The child's father and brother survived and were hospitalized.

On Thursday, a resident in Montecito who is friends with the family confirmed to DailyMail.com that Jonathan's body had been found.

THE MISSING

James Mitchell, 89, and Alice Mitchell, 78 

Elderly couple Alice and Jim Mitchell have been missing since early on Tuesday along with their white poodle Gigi. 

Their worried relatives have appealed for information about their whereabouts on social media. 

James, 89, (left) and Alice, 78, (right) Mitchell have been reported as missing by their family. A coroner has since confirmed they were among those killed in the mudslides 

Sawyer Corey, 12, and Morgan Corey, 25

Sisters Sawyer and Morgan were at home with the rest of their family when the mudslides crept over their home. 

The two sisters have not been found but their other siblings and mother were rescued. 

The sisters were asleep in their home with Sawyer's twin sister, Summer, and their mother, Carie Baker, when the mudslide hit.

Baker and Summer Corey were later rescued and taken to hospital in critical condition.

Sawyer Corey, 12, and Morgan Corey, 25, were swept away from their home. Their mother and other sisters were rescued 

John McManigal, 64 

John was swept away by the muds as he and his young son Connor fled in the early hours of the morning. 

Connor was found not far from their home and has been hospitalized but authorities have not yet found John. 

Connor's worried brother, who is stationed at a military base in Hawaii, read about the mudslides and shared his concerns for his father on Wednesday.   

 Larry and Judy Anderson, who live on Feather Hill, Montecito, have also been reported missing by family and friends

 Fabiola (left) and her son Johnathan Benitez (right) were last seen on East Valley Road and Hot Springs

Larry Anderson, 73, and Judy Anderson, 78 

The couple's friends and relatives appealed for help to find them on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Thursday, some residents reported speaking to neighbors who said the couple had been found safe but their claims are unconfirmed. 

Fabiola and Jonathan Benitez

The young mother and son were swept away in the mudslides in the early hours of Tuesday.

Friends say her husband and older son survived but Fabiola has not been found. 

Her son Jonathan, nine, was confirmed dead on Thursday by a friend of the family.

They told DailyMail.com that Fabiola's husband and other son remain in the hospital.  

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