The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with other public safety officials, has issued a Mandatory Evacuation Order effective today (Thursday, March 1) at noon for individuals near the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier fire burn areas throughout Santa Barbara south coast (in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria) due to an approaching winter storm. Individuals must be out of the evacuation area by 6 p.m. today (Thursday, March 1).
The National Weather Service indicates that there is a potential for rainfall to exceed the 0.5 inch per hour threshold. Officials hope to return individuals to their homes as soon as it is safe to do so. To determine if a residence or business is in the evacuation area, consult the evacuation boundaries map at ReadySBC.org.
The potential for debris flows being triggered is low to moderate. Waterway flows may be rapid and blockage and overtopping in waterways is expected. Roads may be flooded and impassable. People close to and immediately downstream of choke points may be endangered. It is important that community members understand the seriousness of the situation and follow the direction of authorities.
Red Cross has established an evacuation center at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara. Anyone evacuated or otherwise affected by the approaching storm is welcome to find relief and comfort at this location. Earl Warren Showgrounds is also accepting large animals. For assistance evacuating large and small animals, contact Santa Barbara County Animal Services hotline at 805-681-4332.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, "The decision to evacuate these areas is being made out of an abundance of caution. Due to the size and breadth of the evacuation area, not all residents will be contacted in person. Do not wait for deputies or someone else to come to your home or business. Everyone should begin the evacuation process now. Community members should check with their neighbors to see if they need help to evacuate."
The California Highway Patrol, the National Weather Service and public safety partners will monitor storm activity to ensure Highway 101 remains open to facilitate resident evacuations. If Highway 101 needs to be closed, CHP would do so just prior to the arrival of the intense portion of the storm. Bands of rain, timing and intensity will guide this decision. Closure information will be communicated broadly to the public as decisions are made.
Community members should go to ReadySBC.org for up-to-date information on evacuations and road closures.