Disappointed and Angry

Dear Mayor Rowse,

I am pretty upset. I live on De la Vina Street, right below Haley. I work for the Montecito Association and have been heavily involved in both disaster recovery and emergency preparedness in that community. I used to work for the Coast Village Association in 2018, when the Debris Flow hit.

On Monday, I attended the press briefing at noon and then got busy communicating the evacuation of Montecito to the community. Then I thought to check the status of lower Mission Creek, behind my complex.

It was coming up over its banks, raging. We live on the ground floor.

I scrambled to my elderly mom to get a couple of things together, and our dogs, and tried to evacuate. My neighbors were doing the same thing. The street was already flooding. We could not get out in our cars — the water was too high. One neighbor had a tall truck. He loaded us all into it, and we hustled out.

I realized no one had been warned to evacuate. We did because I knew I needed to from other emergencies I’ve experienced.

We came back in with a friend who had an SUV at 4 p.m., in a lull in the rain. The street was covered in mud and water. Our driveway was covered. Our garages were flooded. Water was coming into our apartment. We tried to block it. We hoped to get our car out before the next round of intense rain. We could not. Only high-profile vehicles could navigate the water in the road. So we left again, knowing it was probably not safe to spend the night here.

Today, we came back in the sunshine. Our street is piled with mud. No one from the city has come by, said a thing, or promised to clear that mud. Neighbors are asking me if the city is coming to help. I have no idea what to tell them.

I went through the Debris Flow in 2018 in the Montecito community. I know what was done, both by the city and county, to handle that mess. It’s a hell of a sight better than what I saw yesterday and today from the city. It’s clear that five years after that very painful event, the county and our state partners have learned a great deal about emergencies, calling for evacuations, dealing with infrastructure, clearing water and mud, and so forth.

The Loma Alta fire, and now this flood event, show the city is not nearly as good at protecting its most at-risk communities, which happen to be both the lowest lying, and in our case, and the Eastside, the lowest income.

Thanks for getting on Coast Village right away and clearing the mud — another lower lying community. Appreciate it.

Too bad the Eastside and Westside don’t warrant the same kind of service, apparently.

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