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Highway 101 Closed in Santa Barbara Area Until at Least Monday Due to Mudslides, Flooding

Ferry service available while roadway closed between Santa Barbara and Ventura; Amtrak train service resumes Thursday morning

An aerial view shows the muddy mess on Highway 101 in Montecito from Tuesday’s flash flooding. Officials say the freeway will not reopen until at least Monday. Click to view larger
An aerial view shows the muddy mess on Highway 101 in Montecito from Tuesday’s flash flooding. Officials say the freeway will not reopen until at least Monday. (California Highway Patrol photo)

Mudslides and flooding covered Highway 101 in the area of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria as a deadly winter storm crushed Santa Barbara County Tuesday morning, and the vital roadway will continue to be closed until at least midday Monday, Caltrans officials said.

There is mud, water, abandoned vehicles and other debris scattering miles and miles of roadway in the closure area, especially in Montecito between Hot Springs Road and Sheffield Drive, Caltrans District 5 spokesman Colin Jones said. 

Authorities announced Wednesday that lanes reopened between State Route 126 in Ventura County and State Route 150/Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria.

Highway 101 remains closed between Milpas Street in Santa Barbara and State Route 150, and Caltrans said the closure would be in effect until at least midday Monday. 

Drivers should avoid non-essential travel and use I-5 as an alternate route, Caltrans said. 

Amtrak announced Thursday that passenger train service restarted between Santa Barbara and Oxnard. 

The combination of the Thomas Fire and heavy rainfall caused massive mudslides and flooding that were strong enough to knock homes off foundations and push boulders into roadways.

Communities below the burn area — particularly Montecito — were scenes of destruction Tuesday as emergency responders continued their search for survivors.  

Most roads in the Montecito area were impassable due to debris flows and flooding, which hampered rescue efforts. 

Other road closures were put in place due to mandatory evacuation orders or more minor flooding issues throughout the county, and the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department has a running list of active road closures here.

At least two companies decided to offer ferry service starting Wednesday. 

Island Packers and the Condor Express will have daily shuttles between the Ventura Harbor and the Santa Barbara Harbor during the Highway 101 closure. 

Both companies offer trips northbound from the Ventura Harbor, at 1415 Spinnaker Dr., and southbound from the Santa Barbara Harbor, at 301 W. Cabrillo Blvd.

Fares are $32 for adults and $24 for children, and both companies accept online bookings. 

"We know from previous experience that call volume will be off the charts," the companies said. "If you can book online please do. If you are paying for your trip in cash, please try to bring exact change (there is no tax, cost is as it appears)." 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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