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The death toll from Tuesday’s mudslides currently stands at 17.
DeGeneres, 59, became very emotional during an episode of her daytime talk show, airing Thursday, as she shared how she and her wife Portia de Rossi were forced to evacuate from their home.
“This room is always so full of positivity and love and today I really need it. So many times over the past 15 years people have come up to me and say to me that when they’re going through a tough time this show helps them through it,” she told her audience and viewers. “Today, I need you because there’s a lot going on in my life right now.”
“One of the things that I want to talk about is you know, we’ve had these terrible fires all over California and one of the hardest hit areas is where I live in Montecito. We have had mandatory evacuations,” DeGeneres said. “So, we were just able to get back into our house on Dec. 27 and I got back over the holidays and I just drove around. I love that community so much. There were just signs everywhere that said thank you and grateful just everywhere saying thank you to the firefighters and first responders. And it made me so proud to live there. I just love this place.”
“We were expecting rain this week and usually we’re grateful for rain, especially in California, but not after the largest fire in the history of California. Sunday night, Portia and I got a call that we’re under mandatory evacuation again with most of the community of Montecito,” she said during her show. “So again, we evacuated because they feared mudslides. After everything we’ve been through I think a lot of people thought they were just being overly cautious, but exactly what they feared happened. The rain triggered massive mudslides. Massive.”
DeGeneres shared a photo of the street in front of her house that was filled with mud-covered debris from fallen trees to boulders.
“I love this community. If you’ve never been there, Montecito is a small town. It’s less than 10,000 people, it has 2 public schools, family-owned businesses. It’s a tight-knit community so everyone kind of knows everyone. I work in L.A., but I consider Montecito my home. I live there, Oprah lives there,” she said, fighting back tears.
“It’s not just a wealthy community, it’s filled with a lot of different types of people from all backgrounds. And there are families missing, there are people who are missing family members,” the host continued.
“They’re finding people and bodies and I mean, you hear the word mudslide and you have no idea the impact that it has, but after the largest fire in California history, it’s catastrophic. It is beyond recognizable.”
DeGeneres then FaceTimed neighbor Oprah, who remains in Montecito. Oprah shared with the studio audience what her own home looks like.
“Where I am now, which is the east side of my property, I was walking down here and all of my neighbors’ homes are gutted. I’m standing right now still in a lot of mud but not as much as yesterday. I walked out back, you know, where we share a fence line and the neighbors out back they’re houses are gone. It’s as devastating as can be,” Oprah said as she was joined by firefighters from the Ventura City County.
The Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award recipient‘s 65-acre estate, named the Promised Land, endured minimal damage compared to many other properties in the area that were lifted off their foundations or completely destroyed.
“It’s devastating. We’ve lost so many lives and it’s a tiny community and nobody would’ve expected, certainly, I did not, that after we survived the fire and the rain came. Who would’ve expected we have this devastation again with the mudslides, and so soon,” Oprah said.
“But we’re going to do what we do. We’re going to come together and we’re going to do what great Americans do all the time. We’re going to help each other. We’re going to help each other out wherever needed,” she shared about how to move forward from the natural disaster.