Slowly but surely the floodwaters on the 101 Freeway began to recede. The storm came after a 10-month dry spell in the area following torrential rains in January and February of a year ago. While the work continued, Montecito residents watched with frustration.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 15 people are confirmed to have been killed by mudflows in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Overall, 28 people were injured.
The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed. They were supported by K-9 units, 10 helicopters and six bulldozers.
Floodwaters destroyed about 100 homes and damaged 300 more in Santa Barbara County.
Winfrey, who lives in the affluent Santa Barbara enclave of Montecito, looked sullen as she carefully trod through her yard, cluttered with fallen tree branches and other debris. "It's just hard with getting some clear information".
The deadly mudslides also affected the hometown of models Bella and Gigi Hadid, who said in separate posts on Twitter and Instagram they "really can't believe it" and to "keep the families of Santa Barbara in your thoughts and prayers".
Boulders, tree trunks and wrecked structures blocked streets.
Until it was washed away this week by raging floods, leaving only a moonscape of mud and rocks, the three-bedroom Spanish-style house at 319 Hot Springs Road had been a sunny place filled with the artworks collected by Alice Mitchell, who studied art in college, Mitchell told NBC News.
Fire officials said "multiple rescues" were underway early Tuesday and several homes were swept off their foundations by powerful floodwaters. For days, the county had issued repeated warnings via social media, news media and emails about the potential for mudslides.
Heavy downpours struck before dawn on Tuesday after thousands of residents in Santa Barbara County along the Pacific coast north of Los Angeles were ordered to evacuate.
"Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where risky mud and debris flows are possible", said the National Weather Service in a statement. "They weren't concerned", Weimer said.
Oprah Winfrey also has a property in Montecito that is reportedly worth almost $90m (£66m).
Along with the 100 search and rescue personnel from Los Angeles and crews from other distant jurisdictions including the National Guard, the city of Santa Maria dispatched fire department resources and staff from almost every department to help. "I don't know what to do".
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