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Santa Barbara County officials on standby as storms make way over Montecito

Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 22:00:21-05

A week past the one-year anniversary of the Montecito mudslide, another storm with the potential for damaging impacts sweeps over the area.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management was busy Tuesday with county officials who were working around the clock, tracking the storm and bracing for the rain.

“This is tough on the community,” said Rob Lewin, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. “As we’ve told the community all fall, we’ve had six community meetings and we’ve provided all kinds of information in different ways that this is the time we’re gonna have to execute the plan, which is, be prepared to leave and now we’re asking you to leave.”

Bright orange papers posted on doors and mailboxes notify residents of mandatory evacuations. Even popular businesses along Coast Village Road, like the Montecito Inn, were evacuated.

To get through the storm, Amber Anderson, a public information officer for the incident, says fire departments are better prepared this time around with more detailed maps and equipment.

“If you look at our incident action plan, QR codes are being provided for firefighters,” Anderson said. “With a quick snap of their phone, they can capture and download all of those maps, so they have the best tool available to them and that’s knowing where they’re at.”

Once the storm passes, then the area can be repopulated, but a time when people can return home has not yet been announced.

“The operation folks, the fire department, law enforcement, the utility companies, public works, flight control, will all be out in the community to see if there’s any damage, to see if it’s not safe to repopulate,” Lewin said. “People need to pay attention right now. I’m sure they are and that’s what we want.”