Three evacuations in three months leave Montecito residents unea - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Three evacuations in three months leave Montecito residents uneasy

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Mandatory evacuations went into effect at 6 p.m. Thursday night for residents in areas that could be impacted by debris flows. Those evacuations were lifted Friday at 9 a.m., and residents quickly filled the streets to return to both work and homes. While they were happy to get back, the latest evacuation left many understandably uneasy.

Residents returning home from the third evacuation in as many months found bright orange warning fliers taped to doors, mail boxes, and gates stating their home was under a "MANDATORY EVACUATION NOTICE."

"Mandatory, voluntary, it's like those are now some very scary vocabulary words for me," said Santa Barbara Junior High School student Lana Lilienstein. Her home is just down the street from homes damaged in the January 9 mudslides.

Lilienstein's family evacuated Thursday afternoon and chose to stay together on Friday.

"It's scary to even think about going to school when all this stuff is happening 'cause it's like, 'What if the storm does come in the middle of school? What if the freeway gets mudded out again then they cant get to me?" Lilienstein said, looking at her dad.

For business owners like Montecito Resident Amanda Dybdahl, the evacuations are an unsettling new normal.

"We're getting used to this. It's happening so often now and it's raining again. I'm even wondering when the next one will be," she said.

Dybdahl and her family opened up their shop on Coast Village Road when the evacuation orders were lifted Friday morning. Even without seeing it, Dybdahl said the creek near her Buena Vista Road home is more than likely overflowing.

"My husband and I are seriously considering moving just so that we don't always have to evacuate our three kids, our hamster," Dybdahl explained.

Her shop, Viva Oliva, will stay in Montecito even if her family moves, but Dybdahl wonders how many more times she'll close due to rain.

"Will we be told to evacuate every time it rains?"

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown did call evacuations like Thursday night's the "new normal" and said residents should expect to evacuate a few times a year for the next five years or so.

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