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Local News

Casa Dorinda Residents Safe After Terrifying Close Call with Montecito Flash Flood

Retirement complex in voluntary evacuation zone narrowly escapes nearby devastation; all residents moved to other locations

Although unimaginable death and destruction occurred just outside its front gates, all Casa Dorinda residents and staff are safe and accounted for after Tuesday’s flash flooding and mudslides ripped through Montecito. The facility was safely evacuated on Thursday. Click to view larger
Although unimaginable death and destruction occurred just outside its front gates, all Casa Dorinda residents and staff are safe and accounted for after Tuesday’s flash flooding and mudslides ripped through Montecito. The facility was safely evacuated on Thursday. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

This story was last updated at 1:02 p.m. Sunday.

Although unimaginable death and destruction occurred just outside its front gates, all Casa Dorinda residents are safe and accounted for after Tuesday’s flash flooding and mudslides ripped through Montecito.

Casa Dorinda officials said Friday that staff is contacting family members and updating them about the current locations of residents, who were evacuated Thursday from the 48-acre campus at 300 Hot Springs Road.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said 300 Casa Dorinda residents and staff members were evacuated through what he called “an amazing team effort.”

About 25 percent of the Casa Dorinda complex lies inside the 100-year flood plain along Montecito Creek.

Buildings “D, C, H, west wing of B and west half of E” are inside the areas of initial concern, according to Casa Dorinda, a private retirement community owned and operated by the Montecito Retirement Association.

Vista del Monte, at 3775 Modoc Road in Santa Barbara, is temporarily housing 22 skilled nursing Casa Dorinda residents.

“We are fortunate we still had these beds available and are happy to assist Casa Dorinda and our local community in this time of great need,” said Douglas Tucker, executive director of Vista del Monte.

Buildings “D, C, H, west wing of B and west half of E” are inside the areas of initial concern, according to Casa Dorinda, a private retirement community owned and operated by the Montecito Retirement Association. Click to view larger
Buildings “D, C, H, west wing of B and west half of E” are inside the areas of initial concern, according to Casa Dorinda, a private retirement community owned and operated by the Montecito Retirement Association. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

“Casa Dorinda staff will support the daily needs of these skilled nursing residents while they reside at Vista del Monte. Vista del Monte independent living residents are interested in volunteering to welcome the residents and provide moral support during this transition.”

County officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Jan. 8 for neighborhoods above East Valley Road/Highway 192 due to flash flooding from heavy rains that hit the Thomas Fire burn area.

Neighborhoods below the corridor, Montecito’s main thoroughfare, were under voluntary evacuation orders. Casa Dorinda is in the voluntary evacuation zone, a half-mile down the street from East Valley Road but adjacent to the Montecito Creek debris basin.

Across the street from Casa Dorinda’s familiar pink walls, a half-dozen homes were obliterated when a wall of water, boulders, trees and debris roared through the neighborhood early Tuesday. Several people were swept to their deaths and one woman’s body was recovered only yards from the property.

Casa Dorinda residents and staff are enduring their second forced evacuation in less than a month.

In December, the Thomas Fire prompted evacuations and others sheltered in place as the wildfire raged across the mountains above the facility, which offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing.

Casa Dorinda’s reception line is operational during regular hours at 805.969.8011. Updates are being posted on the Casa Dorinda website and on its Facebook page.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Just outside the front gates of Montecito’s Casa Dorinda retirement community, the Hot Springs/Olive Mill roads triangle is teeming with rescue and recovery workers and heavy equipment digging out a horrific scene of death and destruction from the Tuesday’s flash flooding in an area that authorities had designated as a voluntary evacuation zone. All residents and staff safely rode out the flooding and were moved off-campus two days later. Click to view larger
Just outside the front gates of Montecito’s Casa Dorinda retirement community, the Hot Springs/Olive Mill roads triangle is teeming with rescue and recovery workers and heavy equipment digging out a horrific scene of death and destruction from the Tuesday’s flash flooding in an area that authorities had designated as a voluntary evacuation zone. All residents and staff safely rode out the flooding and were moved off-campus two days later. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)
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