Local

Evacuation warning issued for mudslide area

A rainbow appears on the coastline near Carpinteria after a night of heavy rain causing mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm in this January 9, 2018 file photo. With a new winter storm coming this week, authorities have issued a recommended evacuation warning for the communities that were impacted by the mudslides.
A rainbow appears on the coastline near Carpinteria after a night of heavy rain causing mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm in this January 9, 2018 file photo. With a new winter storm coming this week, authorities have issued a recommended evacuation warning for the communities that were impacted by the mudslides.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Listen to story

04:30
Download this story 3.0MB

Authorities are urging people to flee areas devastated by a deadly California mudslide because of a coming storm.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says a recommended evacuation warning goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday for Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Evacuations aren't mandatory but the Sheriff's Office says there's a "high risk" for loss of life and property.

Authorities say a storm coming in Thursday night is expected to rain heavily enough to cause mudslides in the fire-scarred foothill area where mudslides killed more than 20 people last month.

"The good news is that over the last couple of months we have been cleaning out the debris channels, and they are about 92 percent clear now," said Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. "We are hoping that those will be able to catch most of the debris."

Lewin told Take Two that emergency management officials had made extensive preparations in January but that the storm was far stronger than had been predicted and some residents chose not to evacuate.

He said this round of evacuation warnings was more extensive, including the entire area from the coastline up to the mountains, low-lying areas and those near water courses, and even areas in between those areas. He also cited a change in evacuation terminology intended to communicate the danger to residents more clearly.

The county has done away with "voluntary evacuation" warnings in favor of a new three-tiered approach: a "pre-evacuation advisory" 72 hours before a storm that is predicted to exceed debris flow thresholds, a "recommended evacuation warning" 48 hours before, and a "mandatory evacuation order" 24 hours before. The hope, Lewin said, is that residents will be out well ahead of the actual storm.

"You can note that we no longer use terms like 'voluntary.' When we issue an evacuation order, it's an order," Lewin said.

Later Wednesday, officials will evaluate whether to upgrade to a mandatory evacuation order ahead of the storm, Lewin said.

You can see the evacuation zones in this map.

Click on the blue media player above to hear the full interview with Rob Lewin, Director of Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management

This story has been updated.