MONTECITO (CBSLA/AP) — People living in an area devastated by mudslides were urged to think about leaving as a winter storm bears down on Southern California that could bring heavy rain.
A recommended evacuation warning took effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday for Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
The “strong recommendation” could change to a mandatory evacuation order that would go into effect at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Evacuations aren’t mandatory but a “high risk for loss of life and property exists,” the statement warned.
The area is still trying to recover from a fire in December that destroyed entire neighborhoods and left mountains above the communities burned bare of brush and trees whose roots might have stabilized the soil.
“This time, we’ll at least pack our bags,” Montecito resident Brynn Wolf told CBS2 News. “Last time, they came and told us to shelter in place, and they came back about 10 minutes later and said, ‘You have to get out.”
Last month, rain sent tons of mud and debris smashing into homes in Montecito, killing 21 people and destroying more than 100 homes.
Wolf’s home was spared, but much of her neighborhood was covered in mud.
Betsy Graham is planning to leave her Montecito home to stay at a hotel, but she said she has a loved one’s lodging to consider.
“You’ve gotta go to a hotel where they like dogs, so I was gonna do, you know, Motel 6,” she said Friday.
Despite the months of fires and mudslides, Graham is taking the new warning in stride.
“It’s got me so depressed, but I went out and played bridge today, and I won, and I got $4. So, I’m not depressed, OK,” Graham said laughing.
Hopefully the storm holds, but sheriff’s office said a storm moving in Thursday night and continuing through Friday was expected to dump up to two-thirds of an inch of rain per hour in the area — a downfall heavy enough to create isolated mudflows near the burned areas.
“If at any time people feel threatened, take immediate action,” the statement warned.
The Sheriff’s Office already had issued a “pre-evacuation advisory” for the region because of a storm that moved through the area on Monday, although it dropped little rain.
The approach of the first storm put Montecito residents on edge and before its arrival some already had planned to go.
“We don’t feel safe when there is any rain in this neighborhood,” Ben Hyatt told KSBY-TV. “When there is any kind of warning we are leaving. Period.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)