Architects Stepping Up To Help Thomas Fire, Flood Victims

Apr 4, 2018

They were back to back disasters. First, there was the Thomas Fire. Then, there was the Montecito debris flow. While the immediate crisis is over, thousands of Ventura and Santa Barbara County residents are still struggling with its aftermath, as they deal with destroyed and damaged homes. In Santa Barbara County, a new effort is underway to help fire and flood victims who are overwhelmed with how to proceed with replacing, or repairing their homes.

Ben Romo is Community Recovery and Engagement Coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. Romo says the county teamed up with a non-profit architectural group to make free advice, and technical assistance available at the Montecito Center for Preparedness, Recovery, and Rebuilding.

The Santa Barbara County chapter of the non-profit group American Institute of Architects is providing different type of support for fire and flood victims, as well as for the county’s overall recovery efforts.

Keith Rivera is an architect, and President of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the AIA. He says they are also working to help victims get key documents related to their property. And, Rivera says the volunteer architects are helping to look at the future, as part of a task force working on how to shape the county’s recovery process.

While some people are well into rebuilding, a key element in the long range process is working being done by FEMA, to try to assess the impacts of the fire and flood and how it could impact the county in the future.

The technical assistance for fire, and flood victims became available this week at the Montecito Center for Preparedness, Recovery and Rebuilding. The Coast Village Road center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10-2 Saturdays. There are special nighttime hours on Wednesday nights, from six to eight p.m.