SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Years of drought and uptick in wildfires are pointing towards a dangerous wet winter in Santa Barbara County.
"Within the past 20 years, each and every county within the entire state has had at least one declared emergency flood event. Santa Barbara County has had two in the past year," said Jon Frye, engineering manager with the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.
The drought created dry soils which can be a problem during flash floods. An increase in wildfires adds another layer of potential problems.
"People that are in the burn areas themselves or below burn areas need to be aware of the increased risk and hazards," said Frye.
The County is partnering with the state to educate the community during Flood Preparedness Week. Officials are encouraging residents to prepare emergency kits, create an evacuation plan and consider flood insurance.
"It takes 30 days from that time you secure the policy to the time it's effective. So if you're going to wait for it to start raining and it gets dangerous, you're not going to be covered," said Frye.
The county and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is hosting a public meeting on Thursday, October 26 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearing room.
FEMA has performed a detailed coastal engineering analysis and mapping of the Pacific Coast. The research will revise and update the flood and wave data for the county.