New Map to be Released

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   October 18, 2018

At last week’s Montecito Association Board meeting, the board heard from Rob Lewin, director of the County’s Office of Emergency Management, who gave a preview of a presentation that he will be giving to the larger community at a special meeting on Thursday, October 25. 

“As we approach the rainy season, it’s vital that we are all ready for upcoming storms,” he said. Lewin explained that a new debris flow risk map will be released to the public in November, which will help inform residents of their risk of flooding in a strong storm. “If you are in a debris flow risk area, we want you to come up with a plan. That’s what the October 25 meeting is all about,” Lewin said. 

In January 2016, the County launched the use of alerting software dubbed “Aware and Prepare,” and urged all residents to sign up for the program, which sends emails, text messages, and voicemails in emergency situations. In the last year, the County has issued 339 of these messages. In addition, the County has sent out 35 Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), making our county one of the top six in the country to issue WEA messages, which require permission from FEMA and the FCC. WEA messages activate all cell phones with a 90-character message and does not require enrollment. 

The recent fires and mudslides in our area have prompted the County to take a deep inventory of procedures and communication during emergency situations; an After-Action Report was released earlier this week. Lewin delved into the ins and outs of how officials notify the public in addition to Aware & Prepare emergency notifications, including door-to-door notifications, Reverse 911 calls, media releases, and social media platforms. He also went over the Standard Operating Procedures that officials use to determine the best alerting message to reach the public, and said that studies and surveys over the summer have slightly changed the protocols, which will be utilized in the upcoming rainy season. 

During a “rogue” storm, where more rain falls than is expected, or a fast moving wildfire, officials will issue a WEA message first, followed by alerting using all available methods. A buffer area around the area needing to be alerted will also be included in the warnings to ensure the impacted area and adjoining neighborhoods are notified, Lewin said. 

The County has also formulated a new storm readiness alert plan, which will begin 72 hours to 48 hours before a predicted storm. The plan, dubbed “Ready, Set, Go!”, will also be rolled out October 25. Evacuation orders will be given when a debris-causing storm is predicted: a storm creating .8 inches of rain or more per hour. This is a higher threshold than was used earlier this year in March, when residents were evacuated for a storm predicted to drop .5 inches of rain per hour. 

All residents are urged to attend the Informational Community Meeting on Thursday, October 25, at Montecito Union School, 385 San Ysidro Road. A second meeting will be held in Carpinteria on Monday, October 29, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 941 Walnut Avenue in Carpinteria. The meetings will broadcast live on Facebook at “countyofsb” and on YouTube at 

We’ll have more on the new map and evacuation plans in next week’s edition. To stay connected, visit


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