Forecasters expect the first big storm of the season to arrive Monday night, dropping as much as two inches along the coast and twice that in the mountains. Flooding is expected, especially in and below the Thomas Fire burn scar between Montecito and Carpinteria.
“We need to organize and inform the public about [this] very clear and present danger,” said Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Das Williams at a press conference outside Carpinteria City Hall today. Officials on hand, including Office of Emergency Management Director Robert Lewin and County Public Works Deputy Director Tom Fayram, warned that the potential for flash floods in the burn area this season is 10 times greater than a normal year because the Thomas has burned off the top layer of soil that normally acts as a sponge during rainstorms.
Lewin said the fire denuded and destabilized 17 major canyons between Montecito and Carpinteria. He identified “four critical areas” that are dangerously vulnerable to flash floods and attendant mud and debris: within the burn scar; immediately outside its perimeter; creekside properties; and lowlands with histories of flooding. He encouraged residents to visit countyofsb.org, where they can punch their street address into an interactive map pinpointing homes in dangerous areas. He also encouraged residents countywide to sign up for the county’s emergency warning system at awareandprepare.org.
On Monday county officials will hold a community meeting with an update on the storm at 5 p.m. in the fourth-floor hearing room at 105 East Anapamu, in downtown Santa Barbara.
“[Flooding] is a significant risk to our community,” said Fayram, adding that crews are presently wrapping up weeks of work cleaning out 11 debris basins in the area of concern. “And it isn’t just about this storm. It will be about this season and next season.”
A number of DIY sandbag locations have been set up. Bring shovels and gloves; the locations have bags and sand.
Santa Barbara County Flood Control Shop, 4568 Calle Real
Lower Manning Park, 449 San Ysidro Road, Montecito
Carpinteria City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Avenue
City of Santa Barbara City Annex Yard, 401 East Yanonali Street (open Saturday 8am-noon; weekdays 8am-3:30pm)