Wednesday, January 16, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 45

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 13th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 2

County says it will remove material from Montecito mudflows for two to five years


Santa Barbara County will be removing debris from the Montecito mudflows for the next two to five years, according to a staff report presented at the Board of Supervisors' regular meeting on March 13.

Assistant county CEO Matthew Pontes told the supervisors that even though 30,000 cubic yards of material had been removed from roads and cleared from bridges and drainages, there was still much work to be done.

Permanent restoration projects needed include multiple culvert repairs, bridge rail reconstruction, and three complete bridge replacements.

More than 50 miles of county roads were impacted by the mudflows and the massive Thomas Fire (the largest such event in California's recorded history) in December. The combined impacted infrastructure from the two disasters includes more than 200 culverts and 20 bridges.

Pontes said the Army Corp of Engineers helped the county's Public Works department clear 11 debris basins in areas located below the Thomas Fire burn areas in Montecito leading up to the storms that triggered the mud flows. He said similar stream channel and basin clearing work would be needed after each storm for the next two to five years.

The majority of the material that hit the coastal community in the torrents of mud was natural, Pontes added. County staff is currently developing and distributing guidelines, resources, and methods for safe debris removal. Currently, the Tajiguas Landfill is being used as a "short-term staging solution" for sorting and temporary storage of debris "due to lack of local outlets."

The county is also working with California Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to schedule three cleanup events to help remove "limited quantities" of debris from 55 private properties. Private funds were used to repay the county for its "facilitation efforts," according to Pontes.

County Assistant CEO Terri Nisich gave an update on the county's emergency communication systems. She said the county's new website,, is the best resource for updates on disasters and other risks, such as storm and flood events.

The county encourages the public to sign up for Aware and Prepare ( for "timely, official, and vital county information."

Nisich said the county would release bilingual videos and brochures explaining how to prepare and respond to specific disasters. The county also plans to launch informational speaking and ambassador programs to help keep communities informed.

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