Santa Barbara City Firefighters filled sandbags Saturday at the City's free sandbag event in preparation for El Niño.
Michael Stout

The City of Santa Barbara distributed free sandbags Saturday at two locations in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the coming wet season.

“We want people to be prepared,” said Yolanda McGlinchey, Emergency Services Manager at the City of Santa Barbara’s Office of Emergency Services. “We did our part,” she said, “now it’s time for the citizens to do theirs.”

By noon, a line to collect sandbags filled by firefighters stretched from the City’s Annex Yard located at 401 East Yanonali Street, and continued east, ending 100 yards north of the intersection at Calle Cesar Chavez Avenue.

When the filler material became temporally exhausted, cars broke file and abandoned their spots in line. More sand was eventually made available, however, as were more firefighters. Most of them were ready to move from one exhausting task to another with their turnout-pants already on and their engines facing outward.

Residents were initially able to fill their own bags, but this was discontinued as it was decided the firefighters alone were more efficient.

Sandbags are a classic and effective measure to prevent water damage. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides an online infographic that details proper sandbag usage and different methods of water flow control in emergency situations.

Matt Murdock, a Santa Barbara resident, said he needed bags to protect his garage. “It’s a low point,” he said, “the typography slopes.” Murdock took only 15 of the 20 bags made available to each household.


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