Sunday, January 21, 2018     Volume: 18, Issue: 46
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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on January 9th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 45

When it rains ...

For crying out loud, can we get a break from the “extreme weather events” already? It’s a terrible euphemism for natural disasters, which have plagued the Central Coast for months now.

People who watched the hillsides around their homes go up in flames near Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria last month faced walls of muddy and debris-filled water funneling down the charred hillsides on Jan. 9. Homes and their occupants were swept away by the massive rainstorm and gale-force winds that slammed Santa Barbara County, hitting the freshly burned South Coast especially hard.

Lives are lost, and responders were still pulling people out of wrecked homes as of the Sun’s press time. Those people have the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Rescue team to thank, but they’re not alone! There was also help from the U.S. Coast Guard, Cal Fire, the Santa Barbara Fire Department, the National Guard, and California Emergency Operations.

North County communities need to stay vigilant in the wet season as well, especially after the Whittier and Alamo fires during the summer of 2017. Communities in Santa Ynez Valley and Tepusquet Canyon need to be prepared to evacuate if they are in an area that’s at risk of flooding or mudslides. Remember if the Sheriff’s Office recommends you evacuate, you probably should take their advice.

I’ve spent a lot of ink thanking first responders over the last year. The fact that county fire and the Sheriff’s Office were ready to go and assist flood victims while the Thomas Fire still burns is astounding. The resilience, bravery, and commitment of these people is beyond laudable. And knowing that should something happen in our neck of the woods, that they’d be ready to respond to our homes, makes a bird like me feel grateful to live where we do.

I also feel grateful for the locals who volunteer their time amid all the chaos. Our Volunteers issue is an annual tradition when the Sun takes time to put generous and giving locals in the spotlight, but that kind of service seems all the more poignant these days.

With so much focus on political polarization in the U.S., it’s easy to forget that there are thousands of Americans ready to help each other in times of need, whether it’s wildfires or floods. Locals were ready to aid the American Red Cross when it came to support communities affected by the Thomas Fire, but there are others who do volunteer work for more long-term problems. The Family Service Agency’s Ombudsman Program is an important and necessary one for the quality of life of local seniors.

Remember, there are always people in need in our communities. They’re hungry, they’re homeless, or they’re sick. But when a natural disaster sweeps through, they and so many more are vulnerable too.

And when it rains it pours! The current flu epidemic that has swept the nation, California, and the Central Coast has been merciless. There have been dozens of flu-related deaths reported in California, including six in Santa Barbara County in just two weeks!

I’m sure you or someone you know has been wracked by one of these terrible viruses. Nearly half of the Sun and New Times staff has had to call out or work from home, and even sources have been unable to make interviews because of flu!

First fire, then floods, and now rampant illness. Meanwhile, the East Coast is frozen solid. What’s next, frogs and locusts?

The Canary hasn’t started sniffling yet. Send your thoughts to canary@santamariasun.com.




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