Mandatory evacuation zone expanding in Montecito; dozens of peop - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Mandatory evacuation zone expanding in Montecito; dozens of people possibly missing

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A mandatory evacuation zone will go into effect for much of the Montecito area Thursday at 6:00 p.m. after Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the area is becoming too impacted by traffic, hampering search, rescue and repair crews.

The area was previously the Public Safety Exclusion Zone and includes the area west of Sheffield Drive/East Valley Road/Ladera Lane, east of Olive Mill/Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean, and south of the US Forest Service boundary. The area is marked in black on a map located on the county's website

Sheriff Brown is asking everyone to leave, even those in warning areas. Once people leave a mandatory evacuation area, they cannot return until the orders have been lifted. 

The sheriff says the evacuations will remain in effect for likely a week, but that people should prepare to be gone for as many as two weeks.

"The sooner we can get people in to assess and repair the damage, the sooner we can get things back to normal," the sheriff said. Montecito residents currently have no or very limited access to utilities. 

Seventeen people have been identified as having died in Tuesday morning's flash flood. Sheriff Brown said during Thursday afternoon's press conference that as many as 43 could possibly be missing. He said the number is "fluctuating significantly" as calls come into dispatch, names are taken off of social media posts and evacuation shelter message boards. "That doesn't mean they all are missing but we are actively looking at whether they are missing," the sheriff said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to arrive in the area soon, likely including 100 or more vehicles. 

Those in need of assistance leaving can call (805) 681-5542 or visit the County of Santa Barbara's website for more information. 

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