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Residents evacuate, emergency crews gear up as storm approaches - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Residents evacuate, emergency crews gear up as storm approaches Montecito, Carpinteria

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A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for areas of Santa Barbara County considered to be at extreme risk of debris flows during Tuesday morning's storm.

It's the second time this month a forecast of heavy rain has led to mandatory evacuations and Tuesday's storm is expected to be more severe that the last.

"This is going to be our new normal for the next few years. When we have these big storms coming, we are all going to have to leave and we are going to have to get used to it," said Marco Farrell, an evacuee.

Officials said rainfall predicted at a half-inch or more per hour has the potential to trigger debris flows once again.

"Those hills are filled with silt, rocks, boulders. There is plenty more up there that could come down and, in fact, the condition may be even more precarious than it was before the first storm," said Sheriff Bill Brown.

Monday evening, before evacuating, some residents took action to protect their property.

"I've created a big mud berm up in the front by the street. We've set up straw wattles, which is a big straw rolls, tubes to help divert the water," Farrell said.

The county's incident management team will be activated first thing in the morning and county as well as city fire departments will add staff if rescues become necessary.

As for Highway 101, it is open, but CHP officers said the highway could be closed without notice if public safety is at risk. That could happen during the morning commute.

"We don't want anyone caught on a debris flow on the freeway or anyone to be stranded on the freeway for any period of time, so we ask that you stay off the 101 if you do not need to be on there," said CHP Capt. Cindy Pontes.

The American Red Cross has established an evacuation center at the Goleta Valley Community Center.

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