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Ellen DeGeneres’ Montecito neighbor Oprah Winfrey became a special correspondent on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Wednesday, reporting from the site of their community in central California.
DeGeneres FaceTimed with Winfrey for an episode that aired Thursday, and the daytime TV queens discussed the storms that pounded the coastal community this week and the subsequent mudslides that have claimed 17 lives.
Montecito was still recovering from December’s catastrophic Thomas fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s modern history, which left it and the surrounding area vulnerable to devastating mudslides that wiped out homes and buried the 101 Freeway.
“This room is always so full of positivity and love, and today I really need it,” DeGeneres told her audience. “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.”
DeGeneres revealed during the show that she and her wife, Portia de Rossi, were under an evacuation order on Sunday because of the fear of mudslides triggered by the heavy rainstorm.
“You don’t know the power of a mudslide,” DeGeneres said.
Winfrey and DeGeneres, who share a fence line, received those warnings the same evening Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills. Then, at 3:47 a.m. Monday, Winfrey ran to the front of her property to see that the mountain looked like it was on fire because of a gas explosion.
“The next day… I think everything’s fine, everything’s fine… and it wasn’t until I put my boots on and went outside walking and I realize everything wasn’t indeed fine. It wasn’t fine at all,” Winfrey said.
During the video chat, Winfrey guided DeGeneres and the audience to the east side of her property where she showed that her neighbors’ homes appeared “gutted.”
“It is as devastating as it can be,” Winfrey said.
While Winfrey trudged through the mud, she encountered Ventura city firefighters carrying out rescue efforts in the debris fields. She also said that her home was safe because it was on a knoll and was only under a voluntary evacuation order. Despite not having any running water or gas, Winfrey looked on the bright side.
“I feel really safe. And I am blessed and I am going to do whatever I can for the rest of the community,” she said, praising the firefighters for their efforts during the natural disasters and resolving to rebuild the tight-knit community.
“We’re going to do what we do,” Winfrey said. “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.”
Winfrey-DeGeneres 2020, anyone?