Santa Barbara County recovering from flooding/mudslides; highways remain closed

January 15, 2018

Tyson Fisher


Santa Barbara County in California is now in recovery mode after a winter storm caused massive flooding and mudslides, destroying homes and killing 20 people. Certain sections of highways in affected areas remain closed.

As of 8 a.m. local time on Monday, 20 people have been killed, 28 injured and four remain missing after approximately 30 square miles near Highway 101 in Montecito were slammed with rain in areas previously burned by wildfires, causing mudslides wiping out structures. County officials are reporting 73 homes destroyed, 161 damaged and 3,000 still under threat. Victims included all ages, ranging from three years old to 89.

Officials have moved from rescue mode to recovery mode on Monday. Rescue crews are continuing to search for trapped victims. Massive amounts of mud and debris is making access to affected areas difficult, keeping the current environment unstable.

Unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria remain under a mandatory evacuation order. All areas south of Highway 192 to the ocean have been given an evacuation warning.

Much of the same highway closures active over the weekend remain intact, including these:

  • Highway 101 southbound at Milpas Street to Padaro Lane;
  • Highway 101 northbound at Highway 150 to Milpas Street; and
  • Highway 192 in multiple locations.

Road closures as of 10 a.m. local time on Monday (Courtesy Caltrans)

Officials are saying it could be days before roads are reopened and areas accessed for rescue efforts as the environment is still unstable. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has declared a Public Safety Exclusion Zone in the areas west of Sheffield Drive/East Valley Road/Ladera Lane, east of Olive Mill/Hot Springs Road, north of the ocean and south of the U.S. Forest Service boundary. Only rescuers are allowed in those areas.

District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley issued a statement warning anyone who “encumbers the continuing rescue efforts by unnecessarily entering the affected areas will be cited for violating PC Section 409.5 and will face a maximum of six months in county jail and a fine of $1,000.”