In addition, the current drought in Southern California only makes the potential for more mudslides worse, Luke Whelan wrote in Mother Jones magazine.
O'Dea's Montecito house outside Santa Barbara was in the path of a pre-dawn flash flood Tuesday that was touched off by heavy rain.
O'Dea, originally from St. John's, was jailed as a young man for drug smuggling, but is now an author, film and television producer.
Although O'Dea's house was spared, his celebrity neighbours Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bridges had their own brushes with disaster.
NASA has released a pair of images that show the scope of disaster from the Thomas Fire and Tuesday's mudslides in Montecito, California. The couple had to previously evacuate during the California wildfires.
"I am blessed and I am going to do whatever I can for the rest of the community", she said, "and we all just love the firefighters".
"I'm standing right now ... still in a lot of mud but not as much mud as yesterday", she continued. I mean, it was apocalyptic.
"That's the last we heard of them", Clay Weimer said. "It was like somebody had brought a chainsaw and started chopping down trees". She also assured that she feels "safe" despite the circumstances.
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"Normally water's kept in the channels, but with debris flows with the water, it dams up the area and forces debris to back flush", he said.
Before the news conference had ended, Brown returned to the microphone, and with a happy tone said a phone call had just come in about Keating. Photos of the mudslides' devastation litter the video.
Utility trucks crowd the area around Olive Mill Road and Coast Village Road as part of the effort to restore services to flood-ravaged Montecito. With no vegetation left to absorb the rain, the slides came quickly amid a torrential downpour.
Revealing there are still families missing from the "tight-knit" neighborhood, the daytime host made sure to note the community is "filled with a lot of different types of people from all backgrounds" who aren't all wealthy A-listers.
There are now five active missing persons cases, Brown said, though that number has continued to fluctuate throughout the week. The dead ranged in age from 3 to 89. "Every day that goes by the chance dwindles, but we have every resource on the line and we're still in that rescue mentality".
The sheriff's office also expanded the evacuation zone in the Montecito area on Thursday, as traffic on the already-clogged roads is hindering efforts by rescue and fix crews to access the devastation.
County officials have already ordered residents in most of the southeastern corner of Montecito, an unincorporated community east of the city of Santa Barbara, to leave their homes for what they said was likely to be one or two weeks to aid the search and recovery efforts.