Montecito leaders call for community disaster preparedness

Montecito leaders call for community disaster preparedness

MONTECITO, Calif. - With the ongoing threat of debris flows or fires in the area, the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade and their community partners are stressing the importance of emergency response training, ensuring that people in every neighborhood can help and be a leader if disaster strikes.

Experts say 85% of all disaster response is done by volunteers, a mission that hits close to home for this community. Despite our tremendous efforts to band together, there's still work to be done.

Over the last two years, if folks in Montecito headed every evacuation order, they've packed up at least eight times.

“It's particularly poignant here in Montecito, of course after the mudslides and just after all the evacuations that have happened over the last two years in this in this particular area, so it's about neighbors helping neighbors,” said Dan Flynn, CERT Instructor. 

Community members gathered Thursday at the very fire district that's served as a hub in the darkest moments.

“The level and frequency of disasters that we’ve seen throughout the state of California over the last couple years is telling us that we need to up our game. We need to level up our ability to respond and recover to these disasters and a little bit of training goes a long way,” said Abe Powell, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade Executive Director. 

The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade has teamed up with community partners like MERRAG (Montecito Emergency Response & Recovery Action Group) to ensure that people are trained on how to help their community if and when disaster strikes.

“If you put together every fire fighter, every ambulance, every sheriff's deputy in this county they could not respond to every single citizen in a large scale disaster,” said Flynn. 

It’s a very real possibility that your neighborhood could get cut off anywhere from 3 to 5 days before professional responders arrive.

“You’re going to have to be able to help each other and to be able to do that, it helps to have some training so you can be safe and effective in those situations,” said Powell. 

Helping to stabilize a neighborhood could entail light search and rescue or firefighting and knowing how to turn off the gas or electricity.

“With the experiences of disaster that we've had between the fires and the debris flow, we've now got a really concrete example of what's possible, what can happen here and the need for people to be able to respond,” said Powell. 

Thursday’s meeting was the first in a series of ongoing meetings with the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade and community partners like MERRAG and Cottage Hospital.

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