Two weeks after the disaster, some Montecito residents return home

Jan 23, 2018

Heavy rainfall triggered destructive mudslides in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, around 2 a.m. on January 9. Officials confirm at least 21 people died after being caught in crushed homes, flash flooding or debris flows. Two weeks after the disaster, Highway 101 is now open in both directions between the junction of SR 150 and Milpas Street in downtown Santa Barbara. 

UPDATE 1/23/18 6 P.M. Residents of about 750 parcels were allowed home today, click here to see a map and more information from the county can be found here.

UPDATE 01/22/18 9 P.M. Officials announced mandatory evacuation orders would be lifted Tuesday for Ayala Lane, Ashley Road north of Sycamore Canyon Road to the 700 block of Ashley Road, east of Cold Spring Road, and south of East Mountain Drive to the 800 block of E. Mountain Drive. Crews are focused on cleaning drainage areas across Montecito in anticipation of the next storm. Visit CountyofSB.org to see the interactive evacuation map or call the county's public information call center at 833-688-5551 for more information. 

UPDATE 01/21/18 12 P.M. Caltrans crews have sufficiently cleaned mud and debris from Highway 101 in the Montecito area to reopen the roadway. According to Santa Barbara CHP, "US-101 is open, but a few off-ramps and surface streets will be closed in the Montecito area. The following closures will be in place for undetermined amount time." 

UPDATE 01/20/18 7 P.M. Search crews found the body of Faviola Benitez Calderon today. Another community briefing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 22, 4 p.m.

UPDATE 01/20/18 11:30 A.M. A 30-square-mile area of Montecito remains under mandatory evacuation orders while crews work to restore power, water and sewer lines. The Red Cross has closed its evacuation center at San Marcos High School. Survivors of the disaster can get help at a one-stop resource center set up at Calvary Church Santa Barbara, located at 1 Calle Cesar Chavez. Call 211 (local) or (800) 400-1572 (toll-free) for more information.

UPDATE 01/18/18 5:30 P.M. Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for most of Montecito, and first responders and work crews continue to work around the clock cleaning up mud, trees and boulders from the town's streets. Police are manning check-points at all streets leading into the devastated area, and no residents are being allowed to return home yet. Highway 101 remains closed until at least January 22, Caltrans says. Officials stopped holding daily briefings this week, but Santa Barbara County announced late Thursday afternoon an intention to resume those briefings: on Twitter the county said, "Stay tuned for more information."

UPDATE 01/15/18 3 P.M. There won't be a 4 p.m. public briefing as officials have held daily since the disaster struck last week; however, the public is invited to a community meeting Tuesday (01/16) at 4 p.m. at La Cumbre Junior High School. Three people remain missing.

UPDATE 01/14/18 11 A.M. 6,000 Montecito residents remain without power, and many without water service as well. Free bottled water for those customers continues to be distributed form 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. See the latest update from the county and responding agencies for more information. That incident update lists 65 homes as destroyed. The body of another person on Saturday's missing lis was discovered Saturday night - Pinot Sutthithepa, as KCLU reports.

UPDATE 01/13/18 5 P.M. The body of 25-year-old Morgan Corey was found, bringing the number of fatalities to 19. Many of the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted Saturday. According to Santa Barbara County, as of noon, "the evacuation warning issued for areas south of Highway 192 between Ortega Ridge Road to the Santa Barbara County Line will be lifted. This includes the communities of Summerland and Carpinteria." Evacuation orders were also lifted for the areas east of Toro Canyon Road and north of Highway 192. Most of Montecito remains without water and gas service, and a boil notice is in effect for those residents who do have water.

UPDATE 01/12/18  6 P.M. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced another body had been unearthed on Friday, bringing the number of people killed in the disaster to 18. Caltrans announced that the estimated Monday reopening of Highway 101 will most likely not happen as planned. The agency  said it simply didn’t known when crews could sufficiently clean off the standing water and debris enough to allow cars back on the roadway. Call toll free 833-688-5551 or text to 805-699-0165 for updated information. 

UPDATE 01/12/18 11 A.M. Over 1,200 people are involved in the search and rescue effort, reports KCLU, and the number of missing has dropped to five. CalFire has established public information phone and text lines. Call toll free 833-688-5551 or text to 805-699-0165 for updated information. 

UPDATE 01/11/18 11 P.M. The county's sheriff's office released the names of those who died in the disaster. At Thursday afternoon's press conference, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said officials now considered 43 people missing. New mandatory evacuation orders were issued for a 30-square-mile area, from the ocean to Hot Springs Road on the west, the national forest to the north and Ortega Ridge to the east. Click here for information from the county.

UPDATE 01/11/18 10 A.M. The number of missing persons has been revised to eight. Amtrak announced that train tracks in the Montecito area have re-opened, and trains are starting to run.

UPDATE 01/10/18 5 P.M. Officials said two more bodies were found during searches Wednesday. Over 500 responders and ten dogs are working around the clock to look for survivors. At least 13 people remain missing. 

UPDATE 01/10/18 2 P.M. Caltrans says both directions of Highway 101 between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara won't be open until at least Monday, Jan. 15. An informational press conference is planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday to provide an update on the search and rescue effort. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said there remains a group of people unaccounted for as of Tuesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the county announced the opening of a family assistance center at First Presbyterian Church at 21 E. Constance Street for people "looking for assistance in looking for friends/family affected by the storm," open until 8 p.m. Tuesday evening and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Our colleagues at KCLU are reporting first responders have had to rescue some people in Montecito.

A few days before the Christmas holiday weekend, thousands of Santa Barbara County residents returned home after forced evacuations from the Thomas Fire. Now Santa Barbara County has issued more evacuation orders effective Monday; this time it’s for the threat of mudslides and flash flooding. The forecast is calling for strong winds and two to four inches of rain in the foothills through Tuesday night.

Neighborhoods below or bordering the Thomas, Whittier, Sherpa and Rey Fires burn areas are particularly at risk.

County officials sent out notices Sunday calling on Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria residents to leave their homes no later than noon Monday, including all areas north of Highway 192 - east of Cold Springs Road and west of Highway 150 and the Santa Barbara/Ventura county line.

“Also included in this order are the areas along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon, and the Whittier burn areas near Goleta,” according to the county notice.

A voluntary evacuation warning is in effect for all neighborhoods south of Highway 192 to the ocean, east of Hot Springs Road and west of Highway 150. Those who have questions about evacuations can call 2-1-1 or see information at Santa Barbara County’s website.