Catholic school founder feared dead in California mudslides; Oprah Winfrey thanks supporters for prayers

A Catholic school founder was one of the many lives that have been claimed by the deadly mudslides in Southern California, and hundreds of rescuers and dogs are still persistently searching for people amidst the mud and debris.

ReutersAbandoned cars were stuck on flooded roads.

Roy Rohter, 84, founder of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, was one of the 17 found dead, according to CNN. He and his wife, Theresa, were swept away from their Montecito home because of the mudslides, said headmaster Michael Van Hecke. But only Theresa was rescued.

Authorities have yet to confirm the names of the dead, which included children. Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said that the heavy rains started on Tuesday, which caused mud and debris to run down from hillsides in Santa Barbara County.

The houses belonging to the affluent seaside community of Montecito were destroyed, and this came just a week after wildfires were reported in the area. One of the mudslide victims is famed TV host Oprah Winfrey, who even shared her plight on Instagram (@oprah).

In the video, Oprah began by expressing her dismay over the destruction. "Oh my God," she started. She then pointed towards the area where her fence used to stand, then she pointed at her neighbor's house, which was "devastated." She added that debris is "everywhere." In the caption, Oprah wrote: "Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern. My property is fine. Some mud and minor damage that pales in comparison to what my neighbors are going [through]."

First responders used a helicopter to rescue around 300 residents who were trapped by debris, but there were some who remained adamant in staying home. The U.S. Coast Guard even deployed helicopters to collect people from rooftops. At least 28 people were reported injured in Santa Barbara County. A hundred homes were also reported destroyed, while 300 more were damaged.