It is truly a tragedy that so many died in the flood of January 9. Could some of those people have survived the flood? Absolutely. All of those in the Mandatory Evacuation area who chose to stay would undoubtedly still be alive.

In spite of all the many printed notices, door-to-door canvassers, and TV and radio announcements, people chose to stay. After being evacuated due to the fire and having just returned home, they wanted to get back to their normal lives. Since Montecito had never had a flood of this magnitude, it was impossible to imagine how horrible a rainfall could be.

Plus, in our free society, government does not drag people out of their homes if they chose to stay. The fire department, Sheriff’s Office, and other public agencies did everything they could to let people know the danger, but in the end, Americans are allowed to make their own decisions.

Some may consider soothing their pain by hiring lawyers to prove that their friends didn’t know what they were doing. For families and friends to discuss whether their loved ones should have been allowed to stay and attempt to blame authorities for not being vigilant in their efforts to evacuate all, I would suggest they really think about the truth that their friends reviewed the information and decided to stay.


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