Trucks dump loads of mud, silt and rocks at Goleta Beach County Park.
Trucks dump loads of mud, silt and rocks at Goleta Beach County Park. Credit: Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo

The heavy rainstorms of two weeks ago caused an estimated $150 million in damage to public and government infrastructure in Santa Barbara County, said Kelly Hubbard, director of the Office of Emergency Management.

That total includes $83 million of debris removal costs, Hubbard said during her report to the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting in Santa Maria.

The agricultural industry has faced an estimated $35 million worth of damages, she added. 

Local, state and federal disaster declarations have made residents, business owners, the agricultural industry, and public agencies eligible to apply for disaster assistance and reimbursement.

Santa Barbara County has hosted a few days of local assistance centers and those have served about 300 households so far.

Hubbard said the county’s goal is to set up a disaster recovery center and local assistance centers in North County and South County that will be a “one stop shop” for residents to find resources available such as rebuilding and permitting, SBA loans, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance and state assistance.

The county also has Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams who are visiting the homes of those whose properties may have faced damage from the storms and helping people register for the FEMA assistance.

Hubbard said residents should register with FEMA if they have faced any type of storm damages such as slope failures or road impacts to property such as private roads, houses, structures, or agriculture.

“I know there’s some concern or questions about, oh, my structure wasn’t impacted or I didn’t have significant damages,” Hubbard said. “If you had damages to your property, don’t exclude yourself. Apply. Let us help you figure out if you qualify for any of these programs.”

Hubbard said residents should visit readysbc.org to find storm recovery resources and financial assistance, or visit the FEMA website at disasterassistance.gov and register for that FEMA assistance.

Hubbard said residents with damage who have insurance should still call FEMA in addition to their private insurance to see what compensation or reimbursement they qualify for.

Equipment digs debris out of the San Antonio debris basin on Jan. 11.

Public Works-related infrastructure has sustained about $90 million in damage, Director Scott McGolpin said.

He told the Board of Supervisors it will cost approximately $50 million to remove mud, rocks, trees and other debris from debris basins along creeks on the South Coast.

Almost all the basins below recent wildfire burn scars — with the exception of the large Santa Monica basin — were completely full, he said.

Gibraltar Road is closed after extensive damage from the Jan. 9, 2023 storm. Credit: Santa Barbara County photo

McGlopin said the county has been focused on getting all the roads open, with the first priority of ensuring emergency access and resident access to all communities.

Some of the major roads that were impacted were Union Valley Parkway and Tepusquet Canyon in the Santa Maria Valley; Miguelito Canyon Road in the Lompoc Valley; Jalama Road which is the access road to the county park and campground; Refugio Road on the Gaviota Coast; Gibraltar Road near Santa Barbara, and East Mountain Drive in Montecito, he said.

Lake Cachuma rose approximately 53 feet during the storm and could spill by the end of the month, something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade.

“The silver lining, if you will,” McGlopin said.

Learn more about storm recovery resources here: https://www.readysbc.org/3683/January-2023-Storm-Recovery

The page is available in Spanish here: https://www.readysbc.org/3684/Recuperacin-de-la-tormenta-de-enero

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Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.