"The partner of one of the people killed in the California mudslides says the victim had just enough time to shout, "'grab onto some wood and don't let go.'" before he was swept to his death. Authorities had reported soon after the landslide that 48 people were missing, but that figure ultimately was corrected to eight.
A short drive from the centre of Santa Barbara, the small neighbourhood of Montecito, known as an enclave of celebrities and billionaires, was one of the areas worst hit by the mudslides.
In an Instagram post on the same day many Democrats were talking about her for president because of her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, she shared photos of the deep mud in her backyard and video of rescue helicopters hovering over her house.
The body count as of Wednesday was 15, with 25 reported injured and 50 having to be rescued.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters that he does not believe the dead are all individuals who are missing. About 100 homes were destroyed and 300 more suffered varying damage.
"We don't know how many additional people are still trapped", Brown said.
The 17 victims were killed when a devastating mudslide occurred in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, early Tuesday morning after a heavy downpour struck areas burned by the huge so-called Thomas Fire that scorched hillsides last month, officials said.
DeGeneres also wrote on Twitter, "I've love being part of the Montecito community". He added: "We are still very much in active search and rescue mode". "And there are families missing, there are people who are missing family members.it's catastrophic".
The authorities on Tuesday ordered evacuation and recommended that the residents move to high areas.
Yellow bulldozers were clearing the roads of tons of sticky brown mud in Montecito and other towns as utility workers restored downed power lines.
A mud-caked 14-year-old girl was among the dozens rescued on the ground Tuesday.
The Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire in California's recorded history -burned more than 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from early December into this month.
Santa Barbara County communities affected by recent mudslides and flooding will be getting additional federal disaster relief funds to help offset emergency response and recovery costs.