Death Toll in Southern California Mudslides Rises to 15

At least fifteen people have died as a result of the devastating mudslides in California with authorities warning that they expect the death toll to go up. 

The problems began shortly after 4am on Tuesday morning after driving rain inundated areas in Southern California that had been recently scorched by wildfires. Officials say they responded to more than 600 emergency calls in three hours as people woke up to the mud coming into their homes. 

Thousands of homes and businesses have been either damaged or destroyed by the mudslides, causing havoc for residents who were told to evacuate ahead of the storm. According to authorities, many of the 30,000 people who were ordered to evacuate refused to leave their homes, with many saying they had been frustrated with evacuations during the December firestorm. 

Many celebrities say their homes were damaged by the mudslides. Rob Lowe, Ellen, and Oprah have been sharing photos and videos of the roads and homes around Montecito. Oprah said her back house had been c ompletley wiped out by the storm and her property was currently being used for helicopter rescues. 

Portions of Highway 101 were shutdown as many people had to abandon their vehicles. Officials say more than 100 cars and trucks are still on California's Highway 58 in the Mojave. 

Because of the many road closures, Montecito has become a veritable island within California, with the only major freeway covered in several feet of debris. 

Photos: Getty Images

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