Flood, mud devastate Montecito and officials expand evacuation zone to assess damage
In an unprecedented event more than half an inch of rain fell in five minutes, and the effects will be felt for the residents of Montecito and surrounding communities for an indefinite amount of time. A new evacuation order was issued for the exclusionary zone starting at 6 p.m. tonight, to help officials get into the community as they continue search and rescue efforts and assess damages.
“Please keep in mind as we issue this evacuation order we are hoping everyone in Santa Barbara County will step up and assist people impacted. Open your hearts and houses if you have a friend that is evacuated that will be at least a week, and prepare for two weeks,” said Sheriff Bill Brown.
The evacuation zone runs from the ocean to the south, Hot Springs Road to the west, U.S. Forest to the north and where Ortega Ridge meets East Valley Road and Lidera.
The flood and mudslide that occurred on early Tuesday morning killed 17 people in Montecito that have been confirmed by the Sheriff’s Dept. See the separate story here. There are still roughly 43 still reported missing and the Sheriff’s Dept is deploying detectives to investigate if they are actually missing. That number could fluctuate, Brown added.
Highway 101 is still closed until at least Monday, Jan. 15, but water is still flowing onto the highway as the drainage basins were cleaned out last Friday before the storm, are completely full of debris and spilling over, according to Public Works Director Tom Fayram.
Fayram added that the Army Corps of Engineers is now in the area and will start work tomorrow to assess the damages and how to proceed with restoring infrastructure.
The Montecito Water District has shut off water to damaged properties and it is unknown at this time when water will fully be restored in the area and some hydrants were sheared off, and their facilities are still inaccessible in some areas.
All beaches south of Gaviota to the Santa Barbara County line are off limits to those who want to go in the ocean as the levels of bacteria exceed public health standards. Officials also warned not to touch anything on the beach as it could be toxic.
One positive thing is that Amrak Pacific Surfliner resumed service between Oxnard and Santa Barbara as of Thursday. To track the status of trains coming and going from local stations, check out Amtrak’s Track Your Train website, here. On the map you can see train arrivals and train departures for specific stations.
Tickets and schedules should be updated on, PacificSurfliner.com
As agencies from multiple organizations and departments gather to assist in all aspects of search and rescue to damage assessment are aided in that FEMA officials declared that damages directly related to the wildfires are covered by the Thomas Fire disaster declaration. This helps in cost-sharing for emergency work and repairs.