By the City Santa Barbara
City of Santa Barbara staff has shifted to assessment and community recovery after a series of winter storms this week caused flooding and minor damage, but no major injuries. As the City moves forward with assessment and recovery, staff is coordinating with local partners to create an in-person, bilingual Local Assistance Center at the Eastside Library to determine the most pressing community needs and connect resources, services, and information. More details will be forthcoming.
City staff prepared for the incoming storm days in advance by upstaffing its response teams and coordinating with county and National Weather Service officials to communicate essential information to residents.
Planning began over the weekend with messaging to the public via multiple online channels, and television and radio interviews alerting residents to prepare for the upcoming storm. Teams surveyed local creeks to alert unsheltered individuals and get them to safe places. Departments began ensuring appropriate staffing levels and readied the City’s Emergency Operations Center.
The Fire Department upstaffed with a brush engine, a patrol, and extra rescue swimmers on duty and the Police Department had up to 30 officers out in the field, including specialized units. Working with the county, City staff brought in an incident management team, had heavy equipment stationed nearby, and assembled a 30-person urban search and rescue regional task force.
During the storm, the Fire Department responded to 110 calls for service, with most of them calls to rescue people trapped in vehicles, and the Police Department answered 160 storm-related calls that included welfare checks, active flooding, and motorist rescues using BearCat equipment. In addition, the Police Department answered 241 regular emergency calls for service. Partnering with the American Red Cross, the City also established an overflow evacuation shelter that housed 30 residents.
Damage assessment teams are compiling damage information and reporting to the county.
All City roads and bridges remain structurally sound and all roads within City limits are passable. Debris cleanup continues ahead of this weekend’s storm in the Lower East Side and West Side and in storm beds and creeks.
Damage at Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf was minimal and City staff will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to perform dredging. The harbor entrance currently remains un-navigable. As more rains come through, City staff will continue to assess whether to limit public access as needed.