Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 9:10 am | Overcast 54º


Westmont College Students Return to Campus Tuesday After Evacuation

Campus evacuated for Thomas Fire and again after Montecito mudslides and floods, though the college itself is undamaged

Westmont College students will be back on campus Tuesday afternoon with limited access to drinking water and an adjusted academic schedule for the spring term.

The private Christian liberal arts college at 955 La Paz Road near the hills above Montecito sustained no damage on campus from flash flooding or mudslides during last week’s rain and survived the Thomas Fire in December, but classes have twice been disrupted by evacuations. 

The college evacuated Dec. 10, before the mandatory Thomas Fire evacuation, and students had take-home final exams.

Students returned to the 110-acre campus for the first day of spring semester classes on Jan. 8, a day before the powerful storm caused major flooding and mudslides in Montecito.

The campus was not issued an evacuation order during the event, but the college evacuated on Jan. 10 since water service on the campus was interrupted.

Westmont officials said they believed there was no significant threat to the campus from the storm given the topography on a ridge that straddles two small creeks, and the limited Thomas Fire burning above campus. 

Students are now preparing to return to campus and restart their spring semester, with all students asked to return by noon Tuesday.  

Drinking water on campus won't be available until the Montecito Water District certifies it in the upcoming days, but water service is on for campus bathrooms, Westmont College spokesman Scott Craig said. 

Mobile shower trailers are temporality available for those who are uncomfortable using the residence hall showers until the boil-water notice is lifted, Craig added.

Westmont College will adapt its spring academic calendar because of the evacuation, but commencement will stay on May 5. 

The college is reducing the President’s Day weekend break to three days, compared to four days.

Westmont College has plans in place for future heavy rains and flooding, and the Murchison Gymnasium is a shelter-in-place site for future storms that's been approved by the Montecito Fire Protection District.

“We are monitoring all the alerts and storm preparedness notices daily and hourly as needed,” the college said on its website.

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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