Friday, August 17 , 2018, 4:31 pm | A Few Clouds 76º


Local News

Evacuation Shelters Mobilize Again for Winter Storm Coming to Santa Barbara County

Shelter operating at SBCC and animals are accepted at Santa Barbara Humane Society, Earl Warren Showgrounds

Clair Lofthouse with the Santa Barbara Humane Society visits a dog named Dora whose owners evacuated ahead of a powerful winter storm expected to hit Santa Barbara County. Click to view larger
Clair Lofthouse with the Santa Barbara Humane Society visits a dog named Dora whose owners evacuated ahead of a powerful winter storm expected to hit Santa Barbara County.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Carpinteria resident Nelson Pinkham was forced to evacuate from his home Monday and took his four-legged friends along to the Santa Barbara Humane Society.

With rain falling, Pinkham’s dogs named Chela and Nikke joined other smaller animals into crates and kennels in advance of a powerful storm predicted to hit Santa Barbara County Monday night and Tuesday.

“If it rains hard, we won’t get out,” said Pinkham, 81, who lives on Lillingston Canyon Road near Cate School. “We are getting the dogs out before the strong rain comes.”

Pinkham also evacuated his dogs to the Goleta facility during the Thomas Fire in December.

“They take good care of them,” Pinkham said about the Humane Society volunteers and staff. “It helps a lot.” 

Santa Barbara County issued mandatory evacuation orders for communities on the South Coast below Thomas Fire, Whittier Fire and Sherpa Fire burn areas, and shelters have opened for evacuees and their animals. Evacuation warnings were also issued for Tepusquet Canyon areas near the Alamo Fire, east of Santa Maria.  

Heavy rainfall is predicted throughout the county, and fires have left the region vulnerable to flash flooding and debris flows, according to the National Weather Service. 

The local chapter of the American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at Santa Barbara City College, at 721 Cliff Dr., and the Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Rd. and Earl Warren Showgrounds at 3400 Calle Real are accepting animals. 

“We always take evacuees free of charge, and it’s one way we are most proud to serve the community,” said Clair Lofthouse, the Humane Society's public relations manager. “We are glad people are bringing their animals. Heeding the mandatory evacuations is important.”

The Santa Barbara Humane Society sheltered dozens of animals during the Thomas Fire evacuations and started accepting evacuated animals again Monday for the impending winter storm. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara Humane Society sheltered dozens of animals during the Thomas Fire evacuations and started accepting evacuated animals again Monday for the impending winter storm.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The Humane Society still has space to shelter small animals, and in all, it can accommodate 35 more evacuated dogs and 34 cats.

There is no limited number for displaced birds and other house pets needed to be evacuated.

“The birds generally come with their own cages, and we can find space for them,” Lofthouse said. 

As of Monday afternoon, the Humane Society had sheltered four chickens, one cockatoo, two dogs, five cats and one bunny on site.

When residents are in harm's way, it gives them a sense of comfort knowing their animals are safe once an evacuation takes place, Lofthouse said.

The Humane Society is ready to keep their doors open as long as needed, Lofthouse said.

Hundreds of evacuated animals sheltered at the Goleta location during the massive Thomas Fire, with some staying as long as 29 days at the emergency center.

Lofthouse’s office was temporarily being used to house kenneled cats displaced by the blaze, she said.

An estimated 7,000 residents are under the mandatory evacuation orders for the winter storm, with another 23,300 people given evacuation warnings on the South Coast, according to Santa Barbara County officials. 

Santa Barbara County officials said to call the county Animal Services hotline at 805.681.4332 for assistance evacuating small and large animals.

The county has a hotline at 805.681.5542 for public information about storm updates, evacuation areas and to coordinate evacuation transportation.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for alerts from the Aware & Prepare program, and to heed all evacuation orders and warnings.

» Click here for Santa Barbara County’s interactive map of possible flooding areas.

» Click here for the latest weather forecast.

» Click here for real-time rainfall amounts.

» Click here for road closures in Santa Barbara County.

» Click here to sign up for Noozhawk’s free breaking news text alerts to your cell phone.

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.

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