Ellen DeGeneres Facetimes Oprah Winfrey About Their Mudslide Woes

It could include everything from urgent, active missing-persons cases being worked by detectives to calls received from acquaintances saying they hadn't been able to reach someone they believe was in Montecito on Tuesday morning when mudslides swept through town and killed 17 people.

Oprah Winfrey, who just days ago won the praise of Hollywood with a Golden Globe lifetime achievement award, is now being directly affected by the damage.

About 1250 emergency workers raced against the clock to find survivors with drones, heavy equipment and sniffer dogs in the rescue and clean-up efforts, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said.

"It doesn't mean that they are all actively missing", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday, as reported by CNN.com. "I got back over the holidays and I just drove around".

Tuesday's mudslides in Santa Barbara County were the result of wildfires followed by a heavy storm that sent rivers of debris streaming down steep hillsides.

The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, where vegetation had been denuded by the largest wildfire in California's history.

Secondary searches of damaged structures were under way. The closure was expected to last until Monday, but after reassessing the damage Friday afternoon, authorities could no longer provide a timeline for when the highway would reopen.

There are now five active missing persons cases, Brown said, though that number has continued to fluctuate throughout the week. "When they're searching if they come across a scent they can't account for then they'll start alerting". "I am praying and thinking so much for our friends in the hospital and their families that are still missing". "It just exhausts the crews out there", Sacramento Fire Department Captain Pat Costamagna said.

A mandatory evacuation order has been extended, as Santa Barbara's County Sherriff said residents staying behind were hindering recovery efforts. The walls at one end of a home had disappeared, leaving its roof hanging precariously. Elsewhere, cars were perched on mounds of earth and garage doors had caved in. Another celebrity who joined Oprah in posting on social media updates on the disaster was Ellen DeGeneres.

Southern California authorities say the number of people missing since debris-laden flash floods smashed through the community of Montecito is now five, down from as many as 43 a day earlier.

The 17 victims range in age from 3 to 89, all residents of the scenic coastal community northwest of Los Angeles.

The company that employs the mother of a 14-year-old girl who was dramatically pulled from a California home that collapsed in a mudslide says the girl's father and 16-year-old brother are still missing.

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