Public safety officials are trying to take what we’ve learned from January 9th’s storm in Southern Santa Barbara County to better prepare Montecito, and other potential flooding trouble spots in the county for future storms.
They’ve unveiled a series of steps including more clear cut evacuation orders to information to help people better assess the potential danger they face from new storms.
One major addition is an online interactive map system which helps people assess the danger should we get another wave of concentrated rainfall. Kevin Taylor, the Montecito Fire Protection District’s Deputy Chief, says the key threshold is rainfall rates of a half inch an hour. He says rainfall rates during the 1/9 debris flow exceeded that rate, but they have set a lower number based on consultation with experts to make sure people have time to evacuate.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says too many people stayed in their homes when last month’s storm approached when they should have evacuated. He says part of the people didn’t get the urgency of the need to go because they were in what were called “voluntary” evacuation areas. So, Brown says they’ve changed the evacuation terminology. The terms now are pre-evacuation advisory, recommended evacuation warning, and mandatory evacuation order.
Another big change has to do with Highway 101. If another major storm is predicted to for the South Coast, officials will close down the highway between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara two hours before the storm’s project arrival.
While attention is focused on the flooding potential in Southern Santa Barbara County, the new maps and expanded planning also cover the Whittier, Alamo, and Sherpa burn areas.
The updated evacuation information is available online, at the county’s special disaster preparednesss website, readysbc.org.