Residents evacuate by the thousands as Montecito rains lightly fall

Storm timing slows down

A light rain fell on Montecito ahead of a significant forecasted storm Thursday.  (John Palminteri/     

MONTECITO, Calif. - The estimated 30,000 residents ordered to evacuate from Montecito and surrounding areas like Carpinteria were able to get out in an orderly flow Thursday evening.

By nightfall, the streets were quiet and patrols by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department had begun. Earlier in the day, deputies went door to door to alert residents to leave if they had not done so.

The area was hard hit on January 9, by a brief, powerful storm that caused a mudflow in the area of the Thomas Fire burn zone. Twenty-one people died, and two are still missing.

Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed -- some valued into the multi-million dollar price range.

A check of creeks this evening showed significant clearing had been done since the mudflow disaster six weeks ago. Runoff water has a channel to the ocean although debris could stack up and cause some of the flow to be diverted.

Businesses in the upper village shopping area were closed including restaurants, a bookstore, and dinner spots.

On Coast Village Road in Santa Barbara, there were only two businesses open, The Bottle Shop and the Chevron gas station (and The Point market).  

Some shop owners put up handwritten signs saying they would be closed for about two days.

Emergency vehicles were staged in the area and road closure barricades were up.

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