THOMAS, WHITTIER AND SHERPA FIRE BURN AREA
Storm Preparedness Information
INFORMATION AND UPDATES FROM THE COUNTY OF SANTA BARBARA
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Attention Residents in or near the Communities Impacted by the Thomas Fire:
The intensity of the Thomas Fire left our mountains with little or no vegetation to prevent the slopes from sliding. With the immediate approach of winter storms, the threat of flash floods and debris flows is now 10 times greater in your community than before the fire – they can happen with little or no warning. Officials may only be able to alert the public with just a few minutes notice, or none at all. It is imperative that you understand the seriousness of the situation and are prepared. Do not delay in taking action to protect you, your family and your property. To determine if your property is in the impact area, please refer to this interactive map . For residents who do not have access to the Internet, call 211 or (800) 400-1572.
We recommend that you take the following actions now:
- Sign up for emergency alerts at www.awareandprepare.org.
- Monitor weather reports and consider your safety risk when a weather advisory is issued.
- Be prepared to leave before roads, creeks and waterways are flowing, or go to a neighbor on high ground or shelter in-place.
- Know all your local access roads and understand that some may be blocked by debris. Have an alternate plan or route. Mudslides can occur even days after a storm when the ground is saturated.
- NEVER drive or walk into floodwaters or go around barricades. It is impossible to know how deep the water is just by looking at it.
- Consider installing sandbags, straw wattles (rolled erosion control netting filled with straw), and other methods to divert water and reduce erosion on your property. Santa Barbara County Public Works offers sandbags.
For locations and information, call County Flood Control at (805) 568-3440 or go to www.countyofsb.org/pwd/sandbag.sbc.
- Refer to the Homeowner Guide to Flood Prevention and Response (español)
- Flood Insurance: Most homeowners insurance does not cover floods from natural disasters. Make sure your home is protected. Refer to Flood After Fire ( español)
- Have an Emergency Plan and a Disaster Kit ready to go. For more information, read the additional resources here as the Debris Flow Survival Guide ( español)
- Our Public Works Department has much more information on storm preparedness.
How was the Flood and Debris Interactive Map created and what can it tell you?
(NOTE: The map is continuously being updated based on the analysis by the USFS and CAL FIRE Teams assigned. Please review this map frequently to see the changes.)
Four areas are identified that could be impacted by the Thomas and Whittier fire burn areas:
- Properties within the burn area: These properties are at an increased risk from mudslides and rocks from the slopes above the property or by the debris, mud, rocks and water that is carried down the watercourses from high up on the mountain.
- Properties within a 1/4 mile of the perimeter of the burn area: These properties are at an increased risk from mudslides from the slopes above the property or by the debris, mud, rocks and water that is carried down the watercourses from high up on the mountain.
- Properties near a watercourse such as a creek: These properties are at an increased risk from debris flows that could cause water to spill over the banks of the watercourse. A creek that maybe dry all year can become a raging force of debris, rocks, mud and water.
- Properties in the lowlands and flood zones: These properties are at an increased risk from flooding and mud flows that could occur from large amounts of runoff from the mountains that are bare of vegetation.
During a storm roads maybe blocked by water or rocks, therefore it may be better to either go to high ground at a neighbor's house or shelter in place. This depends on the specific location of the property you are at. You need to know the threats that surround you!
Thomas Fire Flood and Erosion Prevention and Response Resources
Fires in our watersheds can amplify the need to prepare for winter storms. A burned watershed creates a new dynamic that should heighten everyone's awareness. While in many cases, flooding occurs from sustained rainfall over days that triggers flood flows, a burned watershed can yield the same result, or worse, with a single rainfall that would otherwise not even cause runoff. This list of resources can help you prepare for and respond to any potential flooding and erosion that could occur this winter
It can take many years for vegetation to regrow in burn areas. Rain over an extended period creates elevated risks for flash flooding and debris flows. Awareness and preparedness is key.
Learn how to prepare and what to look for . Ready.gov provides information on signs to look for and ways to prepare if you are at risk.
Resources, Documents, and Data
Learn about the County's rainfall and storm monitoring systems, Hydrology reports, FEMA Floodplain data and more.
Rainfall, River and Reservoir Monitoring
Near real-time Rainfall, River, and Reservoir Information from more than 50 gauges located throughout the County
Flood and Storm
Need sandbags? Do you live in a floodplain? What about insurance? Get answers here.
Standard homeowner's insurance doesn't cover flooding. There is typically a 30-day wait period between when you buy a flood insurance policy and when it goes into effect, but there are some exceptions. Learn how to protect yourself financially.
- Press Conference 1/5/18- Thoms Fire - Risk of Flash Flood
- California: Flooding After Fire
- California Flood PSA
- California Flood PSA (Spanish)
- Flood Preparedness from CalOES
- Do You Know Your Flood Risk? The Department of Water Resources explains flood risk and impacts.
Current Reservoir Levels
National Weather Service Warning System:
The National Weather Service issues weather advisories and watches when the weather forecast indicates there is a potential for hazardous conditions. Watches and advisories are shared online at https://www.weather.gov/alerts, and on the National Weather Service social media Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The National Weather Service will issue a Warning if hazardous conditions are imminent or occurring within the burn areas. The National Weather Service sends Warnings over the Wireless Emergency Alerts system that will send a message to all cell phones in the burn areas and will also send out alerts through the Emergency Alert System that broadcasts on radios and televisions.