New Debris Flow Evac Plan Announced

County Launches Parcel-Based Strategy

This example of the county’s new emergency map indicates that Montecito Water District headquarters, at 583 San Ysidro Road, sits in the line of fire of another debris flow.
Montecito Water District

With the rainy season on the horizon and the continued threat of debris flows looming, county managers are announcing a new evacuation plan for residents in the line of fire. An interactive online risk map published by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) now highlights individual parcels along watersheds that will be evacuated ahead of a predicted debris flow.

The map is a more precise and conveniently searchable version of the familiar red-and-yellow risk map released by OEM in early February. It also possesses a few key differences. While the old map delineated areas as “extreme risk” in red and “high risk” in yellow, the new one only outlines in red the properties that will be evacuated. The amount of rainfall on the Thomas Fire burn scar that will trigger an evacuation has increased from 0.5 inches per hour to 0.8 inches per hour to reflect the growing amount of ground-stabilizing vegetation now on the hillsides.

When possible, said OEM director Rob Lewin, county officials will issue their storm readiness warnings with as much lead time as they can using the same Ready, Set, Go public messaging strategy they utilize during wildfires. Sign up for alerts at Lewin stressed that rainstorms can intensify quickly with little warning; residents should have a plan if they get caught in one, such as identifying high ground on their property or nearby.

This information, along with other critically important announcements, will be presented at two upcoming community meetings: the first at 5:30 p.m. on October 25 at Montecito Union School and the second at 5:30 p.m. on October 29 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Carpinteria. The meetings will be broadcast live on the county’s Facebook page at “countyofsb,” and videos will be made available on the county’s YouTube channel at Residents without internet or TV access can call the 2-1-1 helpline to ask if their property is located in an evacuation area. Letters will also be hand-delivered to each parcel in the evacuation zones.


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