Community warned of looming threat of flash floods, mud flows from Thomas Fire

Heavy rain and strong winds expected Jan. 8-9

Community warned about flood concerns

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County officials held a press conference Friday morning to address the risks of flash floods and debris/mud flows expected this rainy season in areas of the county heavily affected by the Thomas Fire.

The briefing was held at Carpinteria City Hall and included speakers like Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Das Williams, Tom Fayram with County Public Works, National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Jackson, and Lt. Kelly Moore with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, among many others.

The risk of flash floods and debris or mud flows is 10 times greater than a normal year due to the impact of the Thomas Fire on the environment, according to Fayram. Eleven debris basins have already been cleared by Public Works crews.

The first significant winter storm is expected to hit South Santa Barbara County early next week, with moderate to heavy rain Monday night into early Tuesday morning, Jackson said.

One to two inches of rain is expected in the lower coast and valley, and two to four inches expected in the foothills and mountains with the potential for very strong south winds reaching up to 40 mph along the coast or higher in the mountains, Jackson with the National Weather Service said.

County officials released an interactive map that allows residents to put in their address and see if their home is in an area at risk. View it here.

If evacuations are necessary in South Santa Barbara County, Lt. Moore would be the one coordinating those evacuations. He said there is no better warning to heed than being aware of your situation so that you can make the right call for you and your loved ones.

"Don’t necessarily wait for somebody to say ‘it’s time to go’ because it actually may be too late by the time we are able to do that,” said Moore.

The threat of a fire and weather are different, Moore said. The threat from rain is how it moves on the ground and where it comes from that leads to very little warning to evacuate, according to Moore.

If worse comes to worse, Moore says you need to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Know your escape routes. Have important items packed into your car and ready to go.

Anyone who feels they need flood insurance should get it now, do not wait, Fayram told the crowd gathered at Friday's press conference. Although normally the process to have the insurance kick in is 30 days, Fayram said County officials are working with insurance companies to allow residents in impacted zones of an imminent flood threat to expedite future claims.

Watch the full press conference below.

Residents are encouraged to register to receive emergency alerts at

A community meeting is scheduled from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Monday, January 8, 2018, at the County Board of Supervisors fourth floor hearing room at 105 E. Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara.

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