The Thomas Fire both traumatized and galvanized Santa Barbara and our larger South Coast community. The coordination and execution of safety strategies, and the deployment of personnel and assets in the face of incredible adversity was impressive from anyone’s standpoint. The courage and commitment of the men and women on the front lines is humbling, to say the very least.

It’s easy to overlook some of the other folks involved in saving and maintaining our community in dramatic times like these. Our cops have to perform the emergency protocols involving keeping our roads clear to permit the fire equipment quick and unimpeded access to the critical areas, while protecting life and property.

Our city personnel have their assignments, as well. We rarely think of water and sewer services other than when we pay our bills, but keeping those flowing while power is fluctuating can be challenging.

Manning those stations during those uncertain circumstances takes planning. I was amazed to see the department heads from Public Works, Parks & Recreation, our Library director and others at the Emergency Operations Center, working around the clock with assigned support functions. Your elected officials were there as well, performing vital functions such as getting our pictures taken with firefighters.

Lastly, was the way in which our community reacted. Our fire and police chiefs both made the comment that our residents performed in an orderly and cooperative manner. The stories of neighborly kindness and charity are boundless. People, realizing how destructive this event was to the local economy, are encouraging each other to go shop and dine locally, support local nonprofit organizations and help to jump-start the recovery. A terrible situation brought out the best in public servants and private citizens alike.

Keep all of the heroes from both here and afar in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season. As for your elected officials, we’re available for pictures at a moment’s notice …

Wishing you all a safe and prosperous New Year!

Randy Rowse
Santa Barbara City Council