Since debris tore down the mountains of Montecito last January, evacuation maps, risk levels, vocabulary and messaging have all changed. We look at what danger this year’s winter rains might hold, and how the county has prepared.
“Earlier this year, we promised all of our communities that we would take a very hard look at the debris-flow risk map that we published after the 1/9 event. What’s changed is where scientists believe debris will actually travel. The corridors that were impacted on 1/9, and along their shoulders, have been identified as at risk. Those are the areas that will be evacuated. We no longer use the terms “voluntary” or “mandatory.” The terminology that we now utilize for [debris-flow evacuations] is “weather advisory,” “evacuation warning,” and “evacuation order.”
We hope residents get emergency alerts from news media and other reliable sources. But at the end of the day, our goal is to have 100 percent of our community members enrolled in the county’s Aware and Prepare notification system. The information is available at ReadySBC.org. It’s a very simple process to opt in.
No emergency alerting system is foolproof. The federal WEA [Wireless Emergency Alerts] system is supposed to be the answer for that, but just recently, during the presidential test, I was sitting in a room with a bunch of people and some phones didn’t alert. The county resurrected its Radio Ready several months ago, so when all else fails, you will be able to get emergency notifications that way as well.”