Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 2:59 am | Fair 44º


Updates on Montecito Flooding Impacts

Information on the Local Assistance Center, Highway 101 closure, utility outages, public health and safety concerns, and flood damage assessments

Trucks dump mud and debris from Montecito on the southbound side of Highway 101 in Goleta, near the Fairview Avenue onramp. Click to view larger
Trucks dump mud and debris from Montecito on the southbound side of Highway 101 in Goleta, near the Fairview Avenue onramp.  (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

This story was last updated at 1:40 p.m. Friday.

The response to the Montecito flooding and debris flows has transitioned to clean-up and recovery, and the area is busy with heavy equipment and crews making their way through the wreckage. 

Twenty people were killed in the Jan. 9 storm, and another three are still missing. Authorities said Sunday that they do not expect to find any more survivors

The loss of life, devastating damage and disruption has wide-reaching impacts on the Santa Barbara County community and beyond. 

Santa Barbara County opened a Local Recovery & Assistance Center Wednesday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other relief organization representatives to answer questions and help residents apply for assistance. It will be open to the public through Feb. 3.

The center will be open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and closed Sunday at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez.

The Highway 101 closure will last at least another week, Caltrans said Monday. 

Santa Barbara County starting busing "critical" workers between Santa Barbara and Ventura Tuesday morning but for everyone else, detour options include crowded Amtrak passenger trains, ferry boats, and driving the long way around using Highway 46 or Highway 166 as a connector to I-5. 

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District announced Tuesday it would be offering free last-mile service to get Amtrak train commuters to transit connections and employment centers in Santa Barbara and Goleta. 

Shuttles will run every day, connecting the Santa Barbara train station to MTD's Downtown Transit Center. Goleta shuttle routes will drop people off at various locations including business parks, Camino Real Marketplace, the Citrix Campus, Old Town Goleta and the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. Click here for more information.

Mandatory evacuation zone

Most of Montecito is a mandatory evacuation zone, including the areas heavily damaged in the storm. Utilities are mostly out in the area, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department recommends that people leave.

If people leave their homes to drive around, they will be escorted out of the mandatory evacuation area and not allowed back in, sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

If people are walking around, law enforcement in the area will ask them to leave, she added. 

Authorities do not want civilians in the area and have had several cases of people driving around to get groceries and supplies and then trying to return to the area, she said. 

Utility outages

Santa Barbara County's Office of Emergency Management said Thursday that "most major utilities as well as county roads will be back in service in the areas of Montecito outside the areas
impacted by the flood and debris flow. These are areas bounded by Montecito Creek, San Ysidro Creek and Romero Creek.

"Areas impacted by the flood and debris flow will require extensive efforts to provide utilities and road access. Once the utilities are restored in the other areas, decisions will be made on the rapid return of residents to their homes wherever possible."

The Montecito Water District has major damage to its distribution system, and a boil-water notice was issued for customers who do have service.

The district said Monday that water in Summerland has been tested and is safe to drink, and said Thursday that water in Upper Toro Canyon has been determined safe to drink.​

The boil-water notice is still in effect for some areas

There are three emergency potable water distribution sites, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the district said: the Summerland Post Office, 2245 Lillie Ave.; the Montecito Fire Station at Cold Spring and Sycamore Canyon Road; the shopping center at southwest corner of East Valley Road and San Ysidro Road (Upper Village).

The shopping center site is within the mandatory evacuation zone and is not for public access, but is for people working in the area, the district noted.

On Sunday, the district said there was still no timeline for repairs and service restoration, but updated its repair priority list: "highline" transmission main repairs at six sites; main break repairs to the pipe between Jameson Lake and Doulton Tunnel, at two sites; multiple main breaks; multiple service break repairs; and system disinfection and sampling as the last step. 

Click here for Southern California Edison outage information and updates. 

Click here for SoCalGas outage information and updates.

Click here for Cox Communnications outage information and updates.  

The U.S. Postal Service suggests people impacted by the mudslides submit a temporary change of address. 

"A temporary change of address is designed for customers who plan on returning to their residence within six months. If you are not planning to return to your current address, please submit a permanent change of address request," the USPS said in a news release.   
"A change of address card is available at your local Post Office or a request may also be filed at, the Postal Service’s website that is available to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Customers, who plan on re-occupying their home within 30 days, may submit a Hold Mail request."

People can contact the USPS hotline with questions about mail delivery at 1.800.275.8777. 

Montecito debris dump sites 

Caltrans, county Public Works and other crews working to clear debris from Montecito are dumping it at various local sites, including beaches. 

“This material has to be cleared off,” county water resources manager Tom Fayram said Friday. “We have to get the highway open. We are going to have hundreds of trucks in this area, and we have little time to get this done. We will use every resource we can to restore Montecito.”

Officials have confirmed they are dumping material at Goleta Beach and Carpinteria State Beach, and along Highway 101 in Goleta.

Noozhawk readers have spotted other sites as well, including a location on Via Chaparrel near Cathedral Oaks Road. 

The slow lane of southbound Highway 101 was closed near Fairview Avenue Tuesday, as was the onramp, as Caltrans crews dumped mud and other debris along the side of the roadway. 

Public Health updates

Click here for a Public Health Department guide to protect your health after the storm.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department continues to urge people to avoid ocean water in the South Coast due to contamination levels, and had closed multiple beaches and ocean waters throughout the South Coast as of Thursday.

Mud and sediment from the Montecito flooding is being collected and dumped at disposal sites as part of the clean-up effort, and Public Health urges people to stay 400 feet away from the disposal sites. 

A boil-water notice is still in effect for some areas served by the Montecito Water District. 

Free tetanus shots are being offered this week at some Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics locations. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds, and the risk of wounds increases following a flood or mudslide and during clean-up, Public Health Department officials said. 

Rumors of Hepatitis C being found in Montecito debris are completely unfounded, according to the Public Health Department. 

“I can officially debunk the rumor that Hep C (or A or B) has been reported in any area of the mudslide,” Dr. Charity Dean, Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County, told Noozhawk. “I met with the medical unit at (incident command post) on Sunday to discuss this issue, and the rumor is untrue. It’s not clear where that rumor started.”

In a statement later on Tuesday, Dean said, “Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that spreads when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus comes into contact with the blood of someone who is not infected. It does not spread through food or water, making it highly unlikely that any threat of Hep C spread would occur under these circumstances.

“The likelihood for evidence of other forms of Hepatitis (A or B) and its transmission within the runoff is extremely slight and adds that none of these (A, B, or C) are spread via inhaling dried dust from the mud. The circulating rumor surrounding Hepatitis transmission is unfounded.”

Noozhawk has heard reports that sheriff's deputies stationed in the mandatory evacuation zone have been telling people this.

“The Hep C is just a rumor; People should be aware that those are the types of things that can happen after an incident,” sheriff's department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said when asked about the subject.

Flooding damage assessment maps

Santa Barbara County has an interactive damage assessment map available online where residents can enter their address to search for information on property damage. Individual properties are labeled as destroyed, damaged, minor damage, or affected. 

Incident Command's detailed operational maps also show impacted areas.

Residents should understand that these maps are preliminary and are subject to revision.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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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