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What you need to know: How Santa Barbara County's 72-Hour Storm - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

What you need to know: How Santa Barbara County's 72-Hour Storm Evacuation Timeline works

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For the first time since the deadly mud and debris flows of Jan. 9, Santa Barbara County emergency officials are implementing a new 72-Hour Storm Evacuation Timeline.

The Jan. 9 storm caused widespread damage in the Montecito area as hillsides left bare by the Thomas Fire, which swept through the area just weeks before, were washed away.

Many residents remained in Montecito despite evacuation orders, so county emergency officials developed the 72-Hour Storm Evacuation Timeline in an effort to better inform the public of potential dangers and prepare them for evacuations.

Here's how it works: 

  • 72 hours before a potentially damaging storm is expected to arrive, officials will issue a Pre-Evacuation Advisory for residents in areas that could be affected by mud and debris flows. Community members should begin planning for potential evacuations.
  • 48 hours before a storm, officials issue a Recommended Evacuation Warning. Community members with access or functional needs or who have large animals should evacuate at that time.
  • 24 hours before a storm, a Mandatory Evacuation Order will be issued. Community members in extreme and high-risk areas should evacuate immediately.
  • 12 hours before a storm, the Mandatory Evacuation Order becomes effective. At this point, people in extreme and high-risk areas should have already left the area. 

Evacuation definitions:

  • Pre-Evacuation Advisory - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is alerting the community of possible risk to life or property. Community members should immediately begin preparations to leave and closely monitor the developing situation. If at any time you feel threatened, take immediate action. Do not wait for a notification.
  • Recommended Evacuation Warning - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office strongly urges and recommends persons in designated evacuations areas (extreme and high-risk areas) to relocate to safer locations for their own safety. A high risk for loss of life and property exists. Personal discretion is allowed but not advised. People with access and functional needs and those with large animals should leave now. 
  • Mandatory Evacuation Order - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office orders all persons in designated evacuation areas (extreme and high-risk areas) to relocate to safer locations for their own safety. An extreme risk for loss of life and property exists. Those who refuse to comply with a mandatory evacuation order will not be forcibly removed from their homes; however, they should not expect rescue or other lifesaving assistance after the onset of the emergency event.

Map of areas at extreme or high-risk for debris flows and flooding (click image for full view):

WEB EXTRA: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Commander Kelly Moore explains the evacuation warning timeline:

For additional information on evacuation orders and to sign up for the county's Aware and Prepare Alerts, click here.

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