"All of my neighbors' homes are gutted," Oprah says while FaceTiming into show live from Montecito.
"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" hit a somber note on Thursday's episode, as the talk show host opened up about the devastating mudslides that have ravaged her Montecito community this week.
At least 17 people have been killed and 8 more are reported missing after intense rain following destructive fires in the area led to one of California's worst flooding emergencies in recent history. DeGeneres is one of the many who owns a home in the area and took time out of her usually energetic show to address the seriousness of the situation and thank her audience for keeping her positive. Later, Oprah Winfrey also called into the show to give a first hand account from the ground in the area.
"This room is always so full of positivity and love and today I really need it," an emotional DeGeneres told the studio. "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. Today, I need you because there's a lot going on in my life right now."
"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," she continued. "Sunday night, Portia and I got a call that we're under mandatory evacuation again with most of the community of Montecito. 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."
She proceeded to show photos of some of the destruction in the area, explaining that because of the fires, "trees had no roots to hold the hillside" amid all the rain.
"Neighborhoods were just completely wiped out," she said, "Mud took everything with it. It took houses off their foundation. You don't know the power of a mudslide. You know, you see the news, you see these devastating pictures, but as we speak -– and this could change because it changes every minute – -15 people are confirmed dead. A lot of people are missing. People who are in their homes waiting to be rescued, they don't know what's happening because there's no power, there's no water. People are trying to locate missing people. It's basically search and rescue right now."
DeGeneres then thanked the firefighters for all they're doing in the area and for "working tirelessly on our behalf."
"I work in LA, but I consider Montecito my home. I live there, Oprah lives there," she went on. "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. 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."
Winfrey then FaceTimed into the show, showing off the damage on her own 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," she said. "I walked out back, you know, where we share a fence line and the neighbors out back, their houses are gone. It's as devastating as can be."
She also spoke to some firefighters from the Ventura City Fire Department, interviewing them on the fly about the search and rescue operation.
"It's devastating. We've lost so many lives and it's a tiny little community and nobody would've expected, certainly, I did not, that after we survived the fires and the rain came, who would've expected we have this devastation again with the mudslides, and so soon?" she asked. "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."