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Emergency crews staged overnight in Santa Barbara County

Posted at 12:13 AM, Feb 02, 2019

Thousands of people are evacuated from their homes in Montecito and emergency crews are staging for potential debris flows overnight.

County officials say this storm could bring significant risk to people living beneath recent burn areas. People living in the red zones of the Santa Barbara County evacuation map were told they needed to be out of their homes by 8 p.m.

Santa Barbara County officials are warning people who are still trying to leave that conditions will get more dangerous through the night.

Meanwhile, flood control crews worked into the night to clear debris from Montecito basins. Search and rescue and swift water rescue teams are on standby for what could be ahead. Authorities estimated about 80 percent of the main debris basins were cleared out by Friday night.

“I can guarantee the flood control people are doing all they can to get those debris basins cleared out,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. “The condition of the debris basins will dictate whether or not we need people to stay away for one more day until that threat has passed.”

As additional emergency crews arrive, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office hopes residents have listened to the mandatory evacuation orders. By Saturday morning, travel will likely be dangerous.

“There would be significant risks if people decided to wait and see to see if the storm materializes and all the sudden they find themselves in a precarious situation,” said Sheriff Brown.

Evacuees are welcome at the Goleta Valley Community Center where the Red Cross is prepared to help.

“A lot of the time, they come in for information, some encouraging words, a snack or something, but a lot of them stay as well and wait out the storm with us,” said Kurt Russell, Pacific Coast Chapter Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross.

It’s a well-seasoned group of volunteers because Santa Barbara County has had so many recent disasters. Should evacuations stretch into another night, residents will have a place to go.

“Whatever the needs are, we will meet them. We have a few other sites on standby right now as well as personnel; if we need to expand we will do it very quick and efficiently,” Russell said.

Sheriff’s deputies will be patrolling evacuation zones to avoid any looting issues.