Thousands of people who live in Santa Barbara County have once again evacuated out of their homes ahead of a major winter storm amid concerns about mudslides and flooding. A voluntary evacuation order is in effect for neighboring Ventura County for burn areas north of Ojai Valley.
The National Weather Service says rain will move through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and then into Los Angeles County later Tuesday. The evacuation orders come after a series of storms unleashed flooding and mudslides in Montecito that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and killed nearly two-dozen people.
Light to moderate showers were increasing across San Luis Obispo County and will increase over Santa Barbara County through this morning as well. Showers are expected to increase in intensity around the Thomas Burn Area by mid morning into early this afternoon. #Montecito #cawx pic.twitter.com/X8PHg8RkPB— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) March 13, 2018
Santa Barbara County Emergency Manager Robert Lewin says mandatory evacuations were ordered for people living in the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire burn areas.
"As of now, we're only going to evacuate the areas for people that are near creeks in the extreme risk areas."
Officials are worried that the steady rain could trigger a repeat of the disaster last January. People were told to evacuate through text messages, with some homes having authorities knock on their door last night.
Lewin says he hopes the storm won't keep people out of their homes for too long.
"We're going to get them back home as fast as we can." Lewin said. "We hope this storm moves fast."