County Releases Debris Flow Risk Area Map
Santa Barbara County released a new debris flow risk area map Thursday during a press conference about upcoming storm preparation.
Emergency response officials and local politicians were on hand to discuss preparations and emergency warnings for any upcoming storms that may hit our area. They stressed the importance for the public to understand the risks associated with future storms in the area and what to do when evacuation orders are issued. Debris removal from private property and basins remain the top priority for officials.
To provide more information on future storm risks, evacuation information and debris removal, the County is holding a community meeting on Thursday, February 8, at 6:00 p.m. at Montecito Union School, 385 San Ysidro Rd. Representatives from various agencies will be available for questions after presentations. FEMA representatives will be in attendance to assist community members with long-term recovery needs. Spanish and ASL interpretation will be available. The meeting will also be available to view live online.
The new interactive map shows areas that are at extreme risk for another debris flow. The red areas indicate "Extreme Risk" where properties would most likely be affected by debris flow if 0.5 inches of rain is scheduled to fall per half hour. The yellow and gray sections are considered high-risk areas where rainfall of 0.5 inches per hour or more could affect properties.
Officials are urging everyone to look at the map and see where their homes are and to make an evacuation plan now in preparation. All Santa Barbra County residents are encouraged to sign up for Aware and Prepare, which county officials will use to send out emergency notifications and evacuation warnings.
When a storm is approaching, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be alerted by the National Weather Service 72 hours before the storm is forecasted to arrive. OEM will then issue pre-evacuation advisories and first responders will implement an updated response plan that's been refined after the January 9th Debris Flow.
Then 48 hours before the storm, the Sheriff's Office will issue recommended evacuation warnings to give people time to plan. 24 hours before the storm, mandatory evacuation orders will be announced. It's strongly advised that if you are within this area, it is time to leave. Emergency responders will begin pre-staging resources in extreme and high-risk areas. 12 hours before the storm, mandatory evacuations will be effective and all residents will be required to leave. 2 hours before the storm, roads will be closed and enforced by officers. California Highway Patrol stated they would close Highway 101 from Milpas to SR-150 before the storm to keep people out of the high-risk areas.
Sheriff Bill Brown went into more detail about the updated evacuation plans stating the evacuations are temporary but incredibly important. There are now three specific evacuation categories with clear definitions as previously people seemed to be confused by the term "voluntary evacuation." The new evacuation categories were described as the following:
- Pre-Evacuation Advisory: This area determines you are at possible risk of life and property. You should immediately begin preparations closely and lcosely monitor the storm situation. If at any time you feel threatened, do not wait, leave.
- Recommended Evacuation Warning: This means the danger exists and has been determined you live in a high risk area for potential loss of life and property. It's strongly encouraged you relocate for own safety. Personal discretion is allowed but not advised. People with access or functional needs and those with large animals should leave immediately.
- Manadatory Evacuation Order: This is serious and the most urgent. Danger exists and you are in an area with an extreme risk for loss of life and property. You will be ordered to relocate immediately, personal discretion is not an option and will apply to the public in general. People who do not comply with this order will not be forcibly removed but they do so at their own peril and should not expect to receive life-saving rescue efforts if needed.
For questions surrounding evacuations, debris removal on private property, preparation tips, and more can be answered on the county's new website: readysbc.org.
The entire press conference can be viewed in the below video:
As of February 5, the Local Recovery and Assistance Center transitioned to a smaller Disaster Recovery Center staffed by state and federal agencies to aid with long-term recovery. The Disaster Recovery Center is located at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez in Santa Barbara.
For questions related to recovery resources, the community can call the Public Information Line at 833-688-5551.