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From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for Week Ending Jan. 19, 2018

Responses from Noozhawk readers on recent stories

The mountain front country above Montecito, two miles downhill from Camino Cielo to Mountain Drive and four miles across from Cold Spring to Romero canyons, is an area of about 223 million square feet.

The one inch of rain that fell in this area in the first hour on Jan. 9 produced about 140 million gallons of water, almost all of which was repelled by the ash from the Thomas Fire and sent rushing downhill into Montecito’s three major drainage basins: Montecito Creek, San Ysidro Creek and Romero Creek. 140 million gallons of water weighs more than 1 billion pounds.

The devastation Montecito experienced is more easily understood when you comprehend the size and weight of the mass that roared into these creeks in the first hour. Even more rain fell afterward, probably one to two more inches. A three-inch total rainfall would produce more than 650 million gallons of water falling on the front country and weighing more than 3 billion pounds.

The short-term future implications of the impact of one inch of rain on the mountains above Montecito must weigh heavily in the decision of when to repopulate the area. It’s just the beginning of the rainy season. Ten more inches of rain might fall between now and the end of March. Outcomes may depend on the rate of rainfall. One inch of rain in one hour from a torrential downpour is far more dangerous than a gentle rain of one inch that falls evenly over a 24-hour period.

But who can say how the rain might fall these next two months? It was reported that the Montecito Water District lost 9 million gallons of potable water when the enormous down flow of rainwater and debris severed water pipes and beheaded fire hydrants. Nine million gallons of potable water is a significant loss to the village’s drinking water supply, especially in these times of disaster and drought. Repairs must be completed and the lost potable water must be replenished before repopulating the area.

But the mass of the loss of MWD water was small in comparison to the mass of the rainwater coming down the mountains, and had a negligible impact on the physical damage done that day to Montecito.

Michael Hayes

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A Letter to Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and to Chief Deputy Director Grace Koch:

I write to address the subject of resident access to our homes in Montecito.

Following the devastating mudslides in our community, state and local government officials responded admirably to the challenges of rescuing those lost. I particularly appreciate the hard work of first responders from throughout California to find and save people hurt and stranded.

Recovery and Return

Today (Jan. 17) is the ninth day following the tragedy. Seven days ago, to aid rescuers and those focused on recovery, residents were ordered out of Montecito.

Residents, the victims of the fires and the resultant mudslides, now need to return — even if for discrete periods of time — to retrieve essential items (e.g. medication, clothing, computers, papers, insurance details, etc.). In spite of the need to return, peace officers, at the behest of policy makers, prevent these same victims from retrieving necessary items of daily life. Thus, the victims are being victimized, again, by inartful policy making.

I ask that your office, in coordination with local policymakers, construct cogent policy that permits residents to return for discrete periods of time. Furthermore, clear communication of the procedure one must follow to access our homes must also be broadcast to all residents.

Finally, a specific, unchanging timeline that informs us when our right to travel and return will be protected, not thwarted, would offer solace to those of us displaced by your orders to leave our homes.

I look forward to your response to this letter.


Jeffrey D. Young

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Captain’s Log is so brave to tell the truth re: dumping mud in the ocean, which harms marine life. We all want Highway 101 reopened (and widened) sooner than later, but a more appropriate place should be found for the debris.

Lee Juskalian
Santa Barbara

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I now know why you no longer accept comments to published articles. Below please find a submission for your letters to the editor, which I addressed in an email response to Bill Macfadyen and his article (opinion column) of Jan 12.

As a resident of Glen Oaks Drive, where many neighbors lost their homes and lives, I am incensed by the callous and totally unfunny captioning in your article: “Today’s Montecito Motors,” “Boulder City on East Valley Lane.” Are you kidding me?

Beyond pissed and you should be embarrassed.

John DeGroot

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I was extremely dismayed, disappointed and upset to see you use callous tongue and cheek references during such devastation. Were you trying to be funny when you captioned “Boulder City,” “Today’s Montecito Motors,” “Been there, done that. My condolences” in your article (opinion column) on Jan. 12?

Apologies to your readers and, most important, those affected. Unbelievably insensitive, Bill!!!

Alexandra Bongaerts
Santa Barbara

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I really like the idea of no comments. What a refreshing idea!!! You should consider, however, adding a “poll” at the end of stories saying “how do you feel about this article” and have five or six options like:

» Happy

» Angry

» Funny

» Unimportant

» Really?

» Sad

Just an idea. It allows readers to give feedback but doesn’t allow comments. The best of both worlds.

David Kimbrough
Santa Barbara

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I read Susan Stamper Brown: Phony Prophets Painting Alternate Global Warming Reality. I’ve studied global warming for decades, and the amount of disinformation in her article was disturbing. There is no “alternate reality.” There is scientific research, and the conclusion is indisputable: global warming is real.

Please, please, provide an article rebutting Brown. I expect it from any news medium who values their journalistic integrity. Please respond. I want to hear what you have to say about this.

Brian Epstein
Santa Barbara

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