Santa Barbara- S County

Storm Coverage: Continuous Updates

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - [Jan. 19, 2018 - 5:07 p.m. PST]

As crews get ready to open U.S. Highway 101 through Montecito, search and recovery teams continue to look for three missing people.

The Local Assistance Center at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez will be open until February 3, 2018. It's available Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

SoCalGas crews are restoring service to individual homes and businesses in the area north of Coast Village Road, south Camino Viejo, east of Augusta Lane and west of Olive Mill Road. Work will take place beginning Friday, and Saturday/Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

SoCalGas says customers must be present for service to be restored. For more information visit

Officials held a press conference to discuss recovery efforts. Watch the full press conference below.



[Jan. 18, 2018 - 10:50 a.m. PST]

Caltrans crews continue making progress on the U.S. Highway 101 cleanup and are setting their sights on reopening as early as Monday, Jan. 22.

Crews continue with search and recovery missions within the debris flows areas for any trapped victims.

There are currently three active missing people cases and the death toll remains at 20.

The Red Cross closed its shelter at San Marcos High School abruptly Thursday morning leaving at least 30 evacuated residents looking for new lodging. More information on the abrupt closure here. Residents in need of lodging are being told to visit Red Cross representatives at the Local Assistance Center at Cavalry Chapel located at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez in Santa Barbara.

The Local Assitance Center is open 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday - Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

SoCalGas gas has shut off natural gas service to most of Montecito as they continue to repair and restore damaged pipelines. It is expected to be several days before restoration.

Emergency bottled water distribution for residents affected by the Boil Water Notice are being conducted at:

  1. Montecito Fire Station #2 at 2300 Sycamore Canyon Road and Cold Spring Road
  2. Shopping center in Montecito's Upper Village at the southwest corner of East Valley Road and San Ysidro Road.
  3. Summerland Post Office at 2245 Lillie Avenue.


[Jan. 16, 2018 - 10:41 a.m. PST]

Crews continue with search and recovery operations within the debris flow areas. They continue to search buildings and debris flows for trapped victims but the unstable environment remains a big obstacle for these teams.

The death toll remains at 20 people, 28 storm-related injuries, and three people remain missing. 119 properties have been destroyed and 263 others damaged.

Natural gas has been shut off to most parts of Montecito and is expected to last for several days.


[Jan. 15, 2018 - 7:00 a.m. PST]

The death toll remains at 20 people, with 4 people still missing. Crews have transitioned from search and rescue mode to search and recovery mode. Crews continue searching buildings and debris flows for trapped victims. Officials expect the number of missing people to fluctuate significantly. Search and recovery remains the highest priority. 2,281 personnel are currently working the disaster.

The number of homes destroyed is now at 73 while 161 are damaged. Eighteen commercial properties have also been damaged. You can view an interactive damage assessment map here.

Caltrans is expected to have an update on a possible re-open date for Highway 101 Monday afternoon.

Two out of seven Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital patients remain in critical condition with storm-related injuries.


[Jan. 14, 2018 - 6:10 p.m. PST]

The addition of extra train cars didn't prevent standing-room-only conditions on Amtrak service between Santa Barbara and Ventura County on Sunday night.  The added cars were pressed into service Sunday morning, but the number of people needing to travel north and south across the areas affected by the mudslides continues to overwhelm the available number of seats.  Amtrak remains the fastest method to travel as Highway 101 remains closed from the Montecito mudslides. 

In a Sunday afternoon news conference, a Caltrans official said he didn't know how long it will take to re-open the highway, but a timetable for the work might be available by Monday afternoon.  


[Jan. 14, 2018 - 4:30 p.m. PST]

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the focus in Montecito have switched from Search and Rescue to Search and Recovery.

 An interactive map has been created for people to check the status of structures that have been inspected by personnel in the field. Brown said the map will be updated daily. That map can be found in our Map Room.

CalTrans Public Information Officer Jim Shivers said progress has been made on clearing Highway 101 over the last 18 hours. Shivers said water is beginning to recede and solid material is being able to be removed, particularly in the area of Olive Mill Road.

Shivers says CalTrans hopes to have a schedule in place for reopening the 101.

Shivers said 75 CalTrans personnel are working 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day.

California Highway Patrol would like to remind travelers that there is no way around the 101 closure. Anyone attempting to circumvent the road closure via surface streets will be stopped and turned around.

With a minor amount of rain forecasted for later in the week, residents are being advised to subscribe to emergency alerts.


[Jan. 14, 2018 - 12:15 p.m. PST]

30-year-old Pinit Sutthithepa has been identified as the person whose body was recovered Sunday in the mud and debris of the Montecito mudslide. He is the 20th person to die in the disaster. 

Sutthithepa's 6-year-old son Pasta also died in the mudslide and his 2-year-old daughter remains missing.

More details will be released at a 4 p.m. press conference in Santa Barbara.  


[Jan. 14, 2018 - 10:15 a.m. PST]

The body of another deceased person has been recovered from the mud and debris in Montecito, bringing the total number of people killed to 20.

The identity of the 20th person has not been released yet.

A press conference will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.

Evacuation warnings for areas of the Whittier Fire and Alamo Fire has been lifted.


[Jan. 13, 2018 - 4:15 p.m. PST]

25-year-old Morgan Corey was identified as the 19th person killed in the Montecito mudslides. Morgan's 12-year-old sister was also killed in the disaster. 

62-year-old Delbert Weltzin was located safely in Santa Barbara County on Saturday. Five people remain missing.


[Jan. 13, 2018 - 3:15 p.m. PST]

A 19th body was recovered Saturday in the area of the Montecito mudslide. The identity of the person and circumstances of their death will be released at a 4 p.m. press conference. The press conference will be broadcast on NewsChannel 3 and our News Now channel, as well as streaming on our website, Facebook pages and YouTube.


[Jan. 12, 2018 - 4:30 p.m. PST]

Search and Rescue teams continue search and recovery operations in Montecito. They are now conducting secondary searches in affected residences.

Approximately 1,250 personnel, 114 engines, 29 search dogs, and countless more resources, are helping with search and recovery efforts.

Sadly, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced in Friday's storm press conference that search and rescue teams had discovered an 18th mudslide victim and identified him as 87-year-old Joseph "Joe" Francis Bleckel. Bleckel was posted on our missing's page.

Currently, there are six active missing person cases, according to the Sheriff.

To date, 11 patients with storm-related injuries remain in local hospitals. Only one patient remains in critical condition.

Additionally, a large planned blasting operation will be happening late Friday afternoon in the area of Highway 192 and Toro Canyon. Officials say this is necessary for operations in the field.

Friday's press conference also addressed community concerns on where exactly cleanup crews are depositing all of the mud and debris taken from the Montecito area.

Tom Fayram, Deputy Director of Santa Barbara County's Flood Control District, said the mud and debris collected from the Montecito area are being taken to different sites that include Goleta Beach and Ash Avenue in Carpinteria. Fayram said these two sites are under permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Crews are also using the County Foothill Landfill to deposit some of that debris, and more sites outside of the county are opening up Fayram said. Officials said they would be releasing additional information related to the removal and dumping of mud and debris from Montecito.

Watch Friday's full press conference below.




[Jan. 12, 2018 - 6:21 a.m. PST]

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has released that five people are still unaccounted for and that 1,500 homes are threatened, and total personnel on the fire has jumped to 1,250.

The number of those missing/unaccounted for will fluctuate according to Amber Anderson with SB City Fire:  Anticipate the numbers of missing persons to fluctuate significantly.  The Sheriff's Department is continually receiving reports of missing persons and is actively investigating each report.  As many reports reach a rapid and successful conclusion, others require additional investigation.


[Jan. 11, 2018 - 4:30 p.m. PST]

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is implementing a Mandatory Evacuation Order for the area encompassed by the Public Safety Exclusion Zone. View map here.

Residents that had sheltered in place in this Public Safety Exclusion Zone are ordered to leave by 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be assisting with the search and recovery efforts and will be coming into the area with large vehicles. The Sheriff's Office says this mandatory evacuation is necessary to allow for search and recovery efforts to continue safely for crews.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said during Thursday afternoon's press conference that 43 people are currently missing. That is 35 more people than was reported earlier in the day.

To date, over 1,500 personnel are assisting with search and recovery efforts along with 10 helicopters and Search and Rescue teams from four different counties.

Watch the full press conference below.


To date, 27 people with storm-related injuries have been treated and released or admitted from Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. Hospital officials say 14 patients remain in the hospital and that two are in critical condition, while two others have improved from critical to serious condition.


[Jan. 11, 2018 - 7:38 a.m. PST]

Only EIGHT people are missing .... correction by Amber Anderson, who said there was a discrepancy in how many were missing, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department correcting the earlier announcement.


[Jan. 11, 2018 - 6:55 a.m. PST]

48 people are now missing from Tuesday's mudslides in Santa Barbara County, according to the Santa Barbara City Fire Public Information Officer, Amber Anderson.  Twenty-eight people are injured, four people are still listed in critical condition and the death toll is at 17.

As far as residences damaged the number has risen to 462, the number of homes destroyed has dipped slightly to 65, the number of commercial properties damaged is 20, while 8 have been destroyed, and 683 personnel are working the cleanup and rescue/recovery efforts.


[Jan. 10, 2018 - 8:25 p.m. PST]

The number of people missing from Tuesday's mudslide has been reduced to 16. 


[Jan. 10, 2018 - 4:09 p.m. PST] 

The death toll related to Tuesday's storm has risen to 17, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office confirmed in Wednesday afternoon's press conference from Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. 17 other people are still missing.

The Sheriff's Office said the identification of the victims is a slow process and cannot be rushed. Some of those that were unaccounted for have been located, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

All residents trapped in the Romero Canyon area were able to be taken out safely, officials said. Over 500 emergency responders and 10 search dogs are actively working in search and rescue operations, which have, to date, completed searches in 75 percent of the debris field area.

Three people were rescued on Wednesday. Hundreds have been rescued since the storm hit Santa Barbara County early Tuesday morning.

Watch Wednesday's full press conference below.




[Jan. 10, 2018 - 3:02 p.m. PST]  

Santa Barbara County mudslides quick fact bullet points from incident officials:

  • Fatalities: 15
  • Injuries: 28
  • Missing: 24
  • Single family homes destroyed: 100
  • Commercial properties destroyed: 8
  • Single family homes damaged: 300
  • Commercial properties damaged: 20
  • Incident date: January 9, 2018, at 2 a.m.
  • Shelter opened at Santa Barbara City College campus gymnasium
  • Interactive map: Click here


[Jan. 10, 2018 - 10:55 a.m. PST]  

Message from Santa Barbara County officials:

In order to facilitate the ongoing rescue and recovery operation in Montecito and the surrounding areas, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff has declared a PUBLIC SAFETY EXCLUSION ZONE pursuant to CA Penal Code 409.5(a).

This includes the area west of Sheffield Drive/East Valley Road/Ladera Lane, east of Olive Mill/Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean, and south of the U.S. Forest Service boundary. Please stay out of this area so that rescuers can do their jobs.

Residents are allowed to shelter-in-place in their homes but will not be allowed to move about the area. Persons failing to abide by the order are subject to arrest for this misdemeanor violation.

The Evacuation Order and Warning areas have not otherwise changed. For more information or to view the interactive map, go to or call 211. Please stay out of this area so that rescuers can do their jobs.

Thank you.


[Jan. 10, 2018 - 5:17 a.m. PST]  

The death toll in the Santa Barbara County mudslides climbs to 15 according to Amber Anderson with the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 6:50 p.m. PST]

Bullet point summary information related to the debris flows that occurred in the Thomas Fire burn areas of Santa Barbara County at 4 a.m. Tuesday:

  • Search and rescue operations are ongoing.
    • Fatalities: 13
    • Injuries: 25
    • Rescues: 50 rescues by hoist, dozens more by ground
  • Mandatory Evacuation affecting 7,000 people
  • Voluntary Evacuation affecting 23,300 people
  • Road Closures
    • Highway 101 between Milpas and Seacliff – expected to be closed at least 48 hours
    • Highway 192 at multiple locations. Click here
    • Numerous local roads in the Montecito area
  • Services
    • Natural gas shut off to most parts of repair the distribution system; expected to be several days before restoration. For additional gas outage information, go to or dial 1-800-GAS-2200 (1-800-427-2200).
    • Power outages are affecting over 6,000 homes and businesses, primarily in the Montecito area.
    • Many areas of Montecito are without potable water and sanitary services.
  • A family assistance center is open at the First Presbyterian Church
    • 21 E. Constance Avenue, Santa Barbara, 805-364-1822
    • Open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
    • Purpose is to provide assistance in finding friends or family who may have been affected by the storm.
    • Staffed by Sheriff, Red Cross, Behavioral Wellness, Social Services and Public Health
  • Red Cross Evacuation Center - Santa Barbara City College Campus Gymnasium
    • Large Animal Shelter - Earl Warren Showgrounds
    • Small Animal Shelter – Santa Barbara Humane Society
    • For assistance with large and small animals, call 805-681-4332
    • Click here for shelter information


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 4:05 p.m. PST]

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown confirmed the death toll from Tuesday's storm has risen to 13 at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. That number is expected to rise as emergency responders continue to search for the missing.

Fifty hoist rescues have been completed to date with several dozen contact rescues performed.

Approximately 300 people were trapped in the Romero Canyon area when a catastrophic debris/mud flow occurred at 4 a.m., according to officials.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office received about 600 calls between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. from people who were trapped or needed help from flooding in Montecito and Carpinteria.

Sheriff Brown compared Tuesday's destruction to a scene from World War I.

Watch the full press conference below.



[Jan. 9, 2018 - 1:49 p.m. PST]

Authorities have confirmed that eight people have been killed in Tuesday's powerful storm. Click here for additional information.

Public health officials have issued a Boil Water Advisory for the communities of Montecito and Summerland following the storm. Anyone who doesn't boil their water or uses bottled water runs the risk of illness. Click here for additional information.

We will be broadcasting a scheduled press conference at 4 p.m. from Santa Barbara County officials discussing Tuesday's storm and the predicted severe weather events to come.


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 10:45 a.m. PST] 

The National Weather Service has predicted more severe weather, heavy rain, and possible flash flooding, mud and debris flows for the Thomas Fire burn areas in and around Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria over the next several hours. If you are in debris flow areas, leave now and go to high ground. 


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 9:50 a.m. PST] 

All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church is being used as a triage center for people who are in need of medical attention but are unable to get out of the Montecito area. Paramedics are on site at the church and able to provide medical care. Shelter and restrooms are available.

The church campus is located at 83 Eucalyptus Lane. People are asked to only travel to the triage center if they can do so safely.


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 9:20 a.m. PST]

Authorities have confirmed that the number of people killed in Tuesday's disastrous mudslides in Montecito has risen to five. Mud and debris have destroyed homes and trapped people in their houses from the foothills above Montecito to the beach.

A 14-year-old girl was rescued from a destroyed home in Montecito after being trapped for hours.


Many people remain trapped in their homes and vehicles. 


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 8:00 a.m. PST]

At least two people have died in incidents related to Tuesday's winter storm. The circumstances surrounding the death of those two people is unclear at this time. Their identities will be released pending notification of next of kin. 


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 6:00 a.m. PST]

At least three homes have been destroyed by a mud and debris slide in the area of Hot Springs Road. One man was rescued from mud that was up to his neck, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni.

Multiple people in the area are possibly unaccounted for. 


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 5:45 a.m. PST]

US 101 northbound from Seacliff to Santa Barbara is CLOSED to traffic. California Highway Patrol and California Department of Transportation is working to close the freeway at State Route 126. These areas should be avoided. Use eastbound Highway 126 to Interstate 5 as an alternate route.

Highway 150 from Lake Casitas in Ventura County to Carpinteria is closed.


[Jan. 9, 2018 - 4:15 a.m. PST]

A structure fire in Montecito lit up the night sky just before 4 a.m. A fire with large flames is currently burning on the 800 block of Park Lane. It's unclear at this time what is on fire or what caused the fire ball.

US 101 is closed in multiple places due to flooding and debris. 101 intersections at Olive Mill, San Ysidro, Evans Avenue, Santa Barbara Avenue, Santa Monica Road. 101 is a must avoid area at this time.


[Original story]

A winter storm event has made landfall in Santa Barbara County, putting many on edge as rain comes down in the wildfire burn areas.

Monday saw about a quarter-inch of rainfall in the Santa Barbara area and between half an inch and one inch of rain in the Santa Barbara foothills.

As of 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the foothills received have picked up between one and two inches including near the Thomas Fire burn scar.

At 2:40 a.m., a flash flood warning was put in place for areas in the Thomas Fire and Whittier Fire area. That warning is expected to remain in place until 5:30 a.m. Santa Barbara County had already declared a 'State of Emergency' on Monday in anticipation of heavy rain in the area.

A flash flood warning was issued San Luis Obispo in the area of the Alamo Fire. That warning will remain in effect until about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Evacuation orders have been put in place for many residents in the footprint of the burn areas. Many have sought refuge at Santa Barbara City College as well as local hotels -- which are offering discounts to those evacuated. 

Santa Barbara County put out an interactive map for people to check the evacuation status of their homes. That map can be found here.

The weather event is expected to gain intensity throughout Tuesday morning.

Winds gusted overnight and into the morning. Power outages were reported in Buellton, Vandenberg Village and in the area of Lake Cachuma. By 3:30 a.m. Southern California Edison reported a major power outage in Goleta. 1,341 customers were affected by the outage, which was likely caused by severe weather.

Many schools were closed Monday due to evacuations. Information about schools and districts that are closed on Tuesday can be found here.

Due to the charred landscape left behind in the wake of the Thomas Fire, many homes and businesses in the shadow of the burn area are susceptible to flash flooding and mud and debris flow.

Sandbags are being distributed to residents in the affected areas. Sandbag pick up locations can be found here. Anyone interested in picking up sandbags should contact the nearest pickup location to check on availability.

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