Santa Barbara residents were warned to evacuate due to flooding after heavy rains damaged areas already ravaged from wildfires.
On October 11, Alisal Fire broke out across California’s county and ravaged 17,000 acres of land. It was nearly extinguished at 97% on Sunday. The burn scar is more vulnerable to flash floods and slides after heavy rain. Residents were ordered to evacuate West Coast cities as storms struck the weekend.
Monday morning, the evacuation order was changed from an evacuation to a shelter in place, warning of ‘life-threatening flooding, and debris’. Residents were told to stay inside and to ‘go to their innermost room or to higher ground, such as a second story. The shelter-in place order was dropped.
The ground can become more susceptible to flooding if it has burn scars. As water levels rise, erosion can occur and large amounts ash, silt and rocks can be collected.
The landscape and infrastructure can be severely damaged by the force of the rushing waters and the debris it picks up.
The area affected by the Alisal Fire was ordered to be evacuated by noon Sunday. The Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team spent Sunday afternoon going door to door personally urging residents to leave.
The evacuation order affected nearly 300 homes in Refugio Canyon, as well as other areas along the Gaviota Coast that were affected by the wildfire. Santa Barbara City Fire Department checked the area on Monday for signs that there might be flooding issues after the wildfire. Battalion Chief Jim McCoy, however, told NoozHawk no damage had been reported. One man was rescued by firefighters from Mission Creek’s flood waters.
According to firefighters, the unidentified man was trapped underneath the road when the water rose. He was forced by the water to rise on him and trapped him.
McCoy said that he saw him holding onto the vine cluster for over an hour and yelling for help until someone finally heard him.
The man was saved by firefighters who used a rope system for him to be transferred to a flotation device. ‘He said he wasn’t hurt but he was very cold and very tired,’ McCoy explained.
Heavy rainfall was caused by back-to-back bomb storms that were predicted to create atmospheric rivers. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, atmospheric rivers are long, narrow areas of moisture in the atmosphere that release rain or snow to earth. A storm is a bomb cyclone if its minimum air pressure drops 24milibars or more in 24 hours. The next storm could drop by 50milibars, potentially becoming a double bomb’.