California: Flooding in Montecito Prompts Large-Scale Evacuations


Amid heavy rain, Californians grappled with flooding and mudslides Monday as the latest in a series of storms engulfed the state, prompting large-scale evacuations, downing trees and frustrating drivers who encounter roads closed due to debris.

Tens of thousands of people were still without power, and some schools suspended their activities for the rest of the day.

On the fifth anniversary of a landslide that killed 23 and destroyed more than 100 homes, authorities issued an evacuation order for the entire community of Montecito and adjacent canyons that were scarred by recent forest fires.

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Santa Barbara County Police Chief Bill Brown said that the decision to evacuate almost 10 thousand people “It was based on the continuously elevated rate of precipitation with no indication that the situation will change before nightfall.” Streams were overflowing their banks and many roads were inundated, she said.

The National Weather Service reported up to 20 centimeters of rain in the last 12 hours, and more rain is forecast before the latest storm system leaves the area. The luxurious community of Montecito is nestled between the mountains and the Pacific coast, and is home to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Up the coast, evacuation orders have also been issued for about 32,000 residents living near flooded rivers and streams in Santa Cruz County, said Melodye Serino, deputy county administrator. The San Lorenzo River was declared overflowing and a video posted on social media showed a neighborhood inundated with muddy water reaching the height of a traffic signal.

A mudslide blocked both southbound lanes of Highway 17, a major route from Santa Cruz to the San Francisco Bay area. The vehicles were sent back at the top of the course while crews cleaned up the site.

Despite the intensity of the storms, which have killed at least a dozen people, residents of the small flooded community of Felton remained calm and optimistic.

JM

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