Hundreds of first responders in Santa Barbara County waded through waist-high mud while others flew over the devastation searching for survivors.
At least 25 people were injured, 50 or more had to be rescued by helicopters, and an undetermined number of others were missing, the authorities said.
A home is surrounded by mud and debris caused by a massive mudslide in Montecito, California.
At least 13 people have been killed and dozens of homes have been swept away after mudslides roared down the Californian hillsides. Among the homeowners affected by the storm was the actor Jeff Bridges, who said on Twitter that his home was "severely damaged". "I'm heartbroken for our community of Montecito".
Winfrey shared harrowing footage of her backyard following the mudslides' roll through her neighborhood and on Tuesday. "She had been trapped for hours in a pile of wood that was once her house". Downed power lines wrapped around trees at one property, while elsewhere the lines dropped nearly to the ground. Montecito and Carpinteria were the towns most devastated by the mudslides, according to Amber Anderson, a spokesperson with the Santa Barbara County Incident Management Team, per the Washington Post.
The storm hit hard between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday. That started yesterday immediately after that debris flow.
"We still need to find out if there's any remains or any life potential that's left in there", said Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Buzzerio, who is working on a plan to find and preserve human remains. "I am blessed, and I am going to do whatever I can for the rest of the community". "So it just takes time", Mr Stoop said. His house was spared and was right on the edge of the river that developed, he said.
The rain was lighter in the desert than in coastal areas, but the downpour shattered a January 9 Palm Springs record of 1.13 inches set in 1980, according to the weather service.
Police described the ground situation as a "World War I battlefield scene".