Metal Nets Eyed As Way to Reduce Risks of Future Montecito Debris Flows

NOOZHAWK

Nonprofit Partnership for Resilient Communities has spent months pursuing project with estimated $7 million price tag and is waiting on permit decisions - Almost a year has passed since walls of boulders, mud and debris roared down the steep, fire-denuded canyons above Montecito, leaving death and devastation in their paths. Despite that passage of time, emergency management officials believe there is a significant ongoing risk of debris flows and flooding, since vegetation regrowth can take several years to stabilize the hillsides. With the rainy season underway, the fear of another disaster seems to ride in with every storm, raising questions about what, if anything, the community can do to protect itself.

Megan Miley
Army Corps Says Yes to Montecito Ring Nets

THE SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

Emergency Permitting Process Makes More Headway - A privately funded project to install steel ring nets in five Montecito canyons is slowly moving forward as a handful of regulatory agencies consider the emergency nature of the permit application now under review by Santa Barbara County’s planning department. The Partnership for Resilient Communities, a nonprofit assembled in the wake of the deadly 1/9 Debris Flow and underwritten in part by wealthy Montecito homeowners, is aiming to install more than a dozen ring nets in Cold Spring, Hot Springs, San Ysidro, Buena Vista, and Romero canyons. In the event that rainstorms produce debris flows this winter, the nets are designed to slow mudflows laden with boulders and trees.

Rachelle Sassi
Climate Extremes: the New Norm

SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

A Shift to a Culture of Disaster Preparedness Is Required - As the search continues for the residents of the fire-ravaged Paradise, California, it is clearer than ever that climate is changing in ways that spur unforeseen and devastating natural disasters, such as wildfires, droughts, record-breaking temperatures, mudslides and floods. The tragedies Californians are now experiencing align with the global trend of climate related natural disasters steadily rising over the past few decades.

Megan Miley
‘Fire-floods’ are the new threat in California disasters. Where will they strike next?

THE SACRAMENTO BEE

Brent Larson awoke at 4 a.m. to the shake and rumble of what felt like a freight train rolling down the hill toward his Santa Barbara County home. He leaped from his bed and woke his two sons. In seconds, a wall of water, mud and rock slammed into his house, smashing through one window, then the next, then a third, pouring in as the trio sprinted to the safety of the chimney at the home’s far corner. “It was like out of ‘Indiana Jones,’” he said, nine months later, still shaken. He was lucky. Twenty-one of his Montecito neighbors were killed that Jan. 9 night, and 400 homes damaged or destroyed.

Rachelle Sassi
Santa Barbara County Unveils New Debris-Flow Evacuation Map for Montecito

NOOZHAWK

An updated debris-flow evacuation map showing the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas affected by the devastating Jan. 9 storm was released by Santa Barbara County on Thursday afternoon. The interactive online map was reviewed by operational staff from fire, law enforcement and county flood officials, said Deputy Chief Kevin Taylor of the Montecito Fire Protection District. The map published by the county Office of Emergency Management will be updated when additional analysis is complete, Taylor said, and more map changes are expected to be finished and released in early December.

Rachelle Sassi
PARTNERSHIPS: A Time and Place for Resiliency

MONTECITO JOURNAL

Pat McElroy had been fighting fires for the City of Santa Barbara for 37 years, serving as fire chief for the last five, and was poised to retire. Yes, Santa Barbara is a great place to live, and firefighters consider the city one of the most desirable work details in the nation. But wildfires are becoming larger and occurring with greater frequency, and McElroy had tackled his fair share. He was, as he put it, “More than ready to begin a new chapter.” At noon on December 4, 2017, the City of Santa Barbara sent out a press release announcing McElroy’s intention to step down in 100 days. Just six hours later, the Thomas Fire sparked north of Santa Paula.

Rachelle Sassi
Lords of the Rings: Will Steel Nets Save Montecito?

SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

In the wake of last winter’s Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow, greater Santa Barbara was stunned. We had just witnessed back-to-back forces of nature kill 25 people, destroy more than 100 homes in the county, and traumatize those families who survived. Many of us didn’t know what to do, but we knew we wanted to help. In the months that followed, thousands of volunteers took action, handing out food, digging out homes, and helping survivors find new places to live, fill out disaster-relief paperwork, navigate insurance claims, and talk with therapists about their life-altering traumas. Others donated equipment and services. Some launched spur-of-the-moment nonprofits, to which many more wrote checks to help keep the recovery work alive.

Rachelle Sassi
Ring Nets Proposed for Unstable Montecito Canyons

SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

As the rainy season draws near, an ambitious plan to protect Montecito residents and properties from another catastrophic debris flow is quickly taking shape. Underwritten by the Partnership for Resilient Communities — a nonprofit formed in the wake of the 1/9 Debris Flow — geologists and engineers have been scouting the upper reaches of Montecito’s major canyons for areas where anchored steel “ring nets” could likely stop torrents of boulders and uprooted trees unleashed by intense rainfall. 


Rachelle Sassi
Montecito Canyons May Get Ring Nets

SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

Nonprofit Seeks Approval and Funding Before This Winter. In a move to prevent loose boulders and debris from crashing into creek-side neighborhoods during the next big rainstorm, the nonprofit Partnership for Resilient Communities is planning to install steel ring nets across canyons above Montecito. 

Megan Miley
Let's Block the Rocks... Now

MONTECITO JOURNAL

The Montecito community faces a difficult 2018-2019 winter season. If we get too little rain, we will return to drought worries; too much rain and Montecito residents face evacuation and the possibility of additional mud and rock flows. Of the two perils – severe drought versus debris flow – the more pressing danger is the fear of a repeat performance of the January 9 debris flow that destroyed or damaged 14% of the residential housing in Montecito.

Megan Miley
"Swiss Nets" to the Rescue

MONTECITO JOURNAL

In an exquisitely crafted 2006 article about debris flows written for Canyon Voices and specifically about the nature of Rattlesnake Canyon, Karen Telleen Lawton wrote: “Barely a thousand years ago – a second on a geologist’s watch – a rainwater and boulder slurry called a debris flow surged through [Rattlesnake Canyon], strewing its 10 million cubic yards of rocky bilge into what is now the city of Santa Barbara.”

Alexandra Varner
Rebuilding Montecito: A Focus on Partnership Solutions

MONTECITO JOURNAL

The Thomas Wildfire and the January 9 debris flow have presented the county with the most complex disaster recovery and preparedness scenarios in California history. The confluence of events leading to the twin disasters was unprecedented, the threat of a repeat disaster is still imminent, acceptable mitigation solutions are still amorphous, and their costs uncertain.

Alexandra Varner
Board of Supervisors Accepts Donation from The Partnership for Resilient Communities

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

With a unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors accepted a donation from Partners for Resilient Communities to hire experts for augmented disaster consulting services related to the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow, and determined that the action is not a project subject to CEQA review because it is does not involve any commitment to any specific project which may result in a potentially significant physical impact on the environment. 

Megan Miley
Post-1/9 Debris Flow, Private Montecito Group Partners with County

SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT

Montecito has a new billionaires club. A group of influential residents has formed the new nonprofit Partnership for Resilient Communities to contribute money to the county government’s post-1/9 Debris Flow recovery effort. It is a public-private partnership funded by at least three anonymous donors whom the group described as billionaires.

Megan Miley
Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared 2017 the costliest year on record for weather and climate disasters. Fortunately, there are measures governments, building owners, developers, tenants and others can take to reduce the impacts of such events. The National Institute of Building Sciences reports that every $1 spent on hazard mitigation can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs. The Institute used 23 years of federally funded mitigation grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for their study.

Megan Miley