By Raiza Giorgi
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation warning due to heavy rain arriving tomorrow night, and if evacuation orders are given the county has a new tool to help document and carry out operations.
“The Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SAR) team, under the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department has been involved with managing evacuations for over 30 years. The Sheriff has drawn on our training and experience in running large scale search and rescue missions to plan, organize and carry out evacuation operations,” said Nelson Trichler, of SAR.
In years past it has been documented by paper where evacuation logs are written in by the deputies and SAR personnel going door-to-door notifying residents of the evacuation orders. Sometimes the info they received on these logs were detailed and complete, and other times not as good as they would like, according to Trichler.
“After running the multiple Thomas Fire and flood/debris flow evacuations, we believed there had to be a better method of running a more organized operation that would provide better real time data, especially in today’s tech world. So we started looking around and came upon an app called FulcrumApp,” Trichler said.
Fulcrum provides a data gathering application that can be applied to multiple disciplines, organizations, and events. They also have a community related app that provides data gathering apps for free to organizations such as SAR.
“For the past six months we have been working with the team at Fulcrum to develop an app that we can use for evacuations. Last December we ran a Beta version of the app for more than 100 community volunteers that came out to go door-to-door in Carpinteria and Montecito to deliver pre-flood information and emergency tips to 1,500 residences,” Trichler said.
The app was officially used in the first storm of 2019 on January 15, where deputies used it to track evacuation notices.
Green dots means someone was home but planned on evacuating. Red Dots indicates someone was home and were going to stay and not evacuate. Brown dots meant no one was home but an evacuation notice was posted on the house.
“This app not only tremendously increase the accountability of our door-to-door notifications but also gave us a real time tracking on the progress of our teams. We believe it also reduced the time it has historically taken to complete such evacuation notices,” Trichler said.
If the forecast does not change, an evacuation order will be issued tomorrow, and the app will be used again.
The areas in the evacuation zones include the Sherpa and Whittier burn areas and those below the Thomas Fire burn area including Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.
The county’s debris flow risk map showing the impacted evacuation areas are in red, and can view online at ReadySBC.org.
Things to pack are any important documents and medical records, medicines, and at least a weeks worth of clothing.
Large animals are to be taken to Earl Warren Showgrounds, while cats and dogs can be taken to the Santa Barbara Humane Society and other small animals can be taken to Santa Barbara County Animal Services.
The county has an emergency call center that can be reached at 833-688-5551, and people can also call 2-1-1 for information.
If you feel threatened at any time, leave immediately; do not wait for an alert.