Saturday, January 28, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 48

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on January 17th, 2023, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 47

The little town that could


Guadalupe residents know the meaning of community. After the recent storms that sent floodwaters over the Santa Maria River levee and into town, its residents and officials banded together to take care of their own. 

The city contracted with a local H-2A housing owner to provide shelter for displaced residents. The 20 families that evacuated are now staying in that temporary H-2A housing for farmworkers or sleeping in the Guadalupe Auditorium, according to Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian. 

Smooth Transportation bused residents to their yellow-tagged homes so they could get their belongings and be relocated. 

The Red Cross set up an aid trailer expediently and handed out cots, blankets, first aid kits, and more. 

And when it came to receiving county resources for help and cleanup, 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino practically had to beg Guadalupe officials to take the county up on its assistance.

“[I found] they have this built-in system for themselves where they’ve learned to take care of themselves without asking for help,” the supervisor said. “We actually had to ask [Julian] to request help from the Office of Emergency Services to get the jurisdictional wheels moving.”

Kudos to Guadalupe, which may have its system in place, but Mayor Julian is fed up. 

“This has happened about four times in the last 30 years. It can’t happen anymore,” Julian said about the levee. “There was mud about a foot deep in the street.”

Similarly, parts of rural North County also received quick action from the county Fire Department and elected representatives. Floodwaters washed out sections of Colson Canyon Road and Tepusquet Road on Jan. 9, leaving residents stranded. Within a day of getting an email from two residents, 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson and county Fire Chief Mark Hartwig got out there, surveyed the damage, and had equipment on the scene 30 minutes later. 

“Colson Canyon Road is still not drivable. It’s a mess. But, due to the hard work of Santa Barbara County Fire, as well as many of our wonderful community members, everybody can now walk out and/or get out by ATV to Tepusquet Road,” Colson Canyon Road resident Melony Edwards said. 

Nelson—who lit into Sheriff Bill Brown at the Jan. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting for not busting his butt enough when evacuating the Santa Ynez Riverbed (“Our community,” Jan. 12)—continued his impassioned commentary this week.

“We talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but if we want to do those things, then our actions should reflect that,” he told the Sun. “We shouldn’t focus the majority of our resources on the most affluent. This is what the county government does, we’ve been diverting resources to the South Coast for generations.”

Meanwhile North County supervisor Lavagnino admittedly just doesn’t have the same lens on the discrepancy between the North and South when it comes to distributing resources—while Guadalupe’s kind of wrecking the curve in his district, so to speak. 

He told our reporter that he was pleased with the county’s response.

“Anything I’ve asked for at this point has been a yes.”

Well, that’s great, but it seems that our own South Coast could learn a lesson from the folks in Guadalupe about the meaning of community.

The Canary is a communal creature. Send neighborly thoughts to

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