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Hundreds evacuate Montecito ahead of incoming storms

Posted at 11:11 PM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 11:31:59-05

People living in the burn scar area of the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fires got an evacuation order Monday afternoon telling them to pack their bags and leave soon.

The order is telling people in those burn scar areas to leave no later than 10 a.m. Tuesday and before they do that, many are loading up cars with sand bags to try and give their house some protection from the much anticipated rain.

Sean Bolis lives by Oak Creek and says just a year ago he came home to a house covered in mud.

“It’s not worth staying and finding out,” said Sean Bolis, an evacuee of the red zone.

Now he’s helping the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade fill sand bangs, then he’s leaving town.

“I’m just going to sandbag up my side of my house where the mud came through last time,” said Bolis. “Just build it a little higher and then prepare to leave, get all my electronics, a change of clothes and then get out of here.”

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services issued an evacuation order Monday afternoon telling about 3,600 people to leave no later than 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Emergency Management Director Rob Lewin says the maps should be taken seriously.

“If you live in a debris flow risk area, and you are identified on that map, leave the area,” said Rob Lewin Santa Barbara County Emergency Management Director. “We would never evacuate people if we weren’t 100% certain that it was necessary.”

He says people living near the evacuation areas in places like Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria should consider leaving too.

“They could become isolated and we won’t be able to get to them for several days at a minimum,” said Lewin. “The other this is that they could be without utilities such as power, water, electricity.”

Every crew member of the Montecito Fire Department is on call.

“We have a notch on our belt that we might feel more comfortable with something that happens, but there are some variables that we have no control over,” said Montecito Fire Battalion Chief Travis Ederer.

Ederer said they are armed with new rescue gear.

“Everybody has their own set of waders and boots and then also in here a completely encapsulated dry-suit,” said Ederer.

Many say the last year’s mudslide brought the community together and now they have a better idea of what to do.

“The community has got to stay together,” said Bolis.

Emergency crews say grab your family, pets and essential items and to leave sooner rather than later.

Sand bags can be picked up in the parking lot at Manning Park in Montecito