The major storms promised by weatherpeople everywhere landed in Santa Barbara County on Friday night, bring rainfall totals into a happy place and not causing too much unnecessary havoc for residents. Urban and rural creeks reached fast flows, some corners of the cities were hit by localized flooding, and a few trees may have landed on cars, but overall, the damage seems acceptable, given that the water is desperately needed after one of the drier years on record.
But for one farmworker in the Santa Maria Valley, the rains led to a perilous Saturday morning. According to county fire Captain Kurt Warner, three engine crews and a helicopter were needed to hoist a man out of the Santa Maria River on Saturday morning around 8 a.m. on January 5. The man had driven his tractor across the river on Friday to an island in the middle of the river, and attempted to do the same on Saturday morning. But, according to “The water was much deeper,” explained Warner,” and washed his very heavy tractor and trailer downstream. When personnel first arrived, the water was at the top of the tractor cab.”
Once the search and rescue teams arrived, they called in a helicopter and set up areas downriver where they could catch the floating man, if the air rescue failed. Luckily, the helicopter hoisting maneuver worked, and the man was brought to paramedics onshore. He was uninjured, just scared.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everybody not to enter the water during these periods of stormy weather,” warned Warner. “The water can be much deeper and is moving much faster than people suspect:.It’s very dangerous:Stay out of the rainflow in rivers, so that we avert any further incidents.”