Wednesday marked the first rain event of the calendar year for Santa Barbara, and the city of Santa Barbara Public Works Department was ready for anything.
As of Wednesday, around 2,000 sandbags were picked up from the two city locations offering them, Fire Station 7, 2411 Stanwood Drive, and the annex yard at 401 E. Yanonali St., according to the acting public works director, Joshua Haggmark.
The city’s street and water resources staff is out on rotation around the clock making sure all areas have coverage in the event of a major downpour.
“A lot of the planning for this actually happens in the six to nine months leading up to this,” Mr. Haggmark told the News-Press. “This is just kind of game day. We’ve been prepping for it.”
He said city street crews have been proactively cleaning out storm drains and making sure all the grates are cleared going into this storm.
In addition, city crews are roaming certain areas looking for any potential issues. The city also temporarily opened its Emergency Operations Center to handle an influx of calls.
No street closures or debris cleanups were reported in the city on Wednesday, but the forecast indicates that the more intense rain event is likely to occur today.
Mr. Haggmark added that the city is keeping a close eye on Sycamore Creek, including the vegetation growing in it, to ensure debris breaks loose and doesn’t get plugged downstream, and the watershed above the Gibraltar Reservoir.
Staff is also keeping an eye on State Street and all the parklets along the corridor, ensuring they don’t block any storm flows in the street. Contingency planning is available if issues arise.
He said that community members living in potential mudslide areas should already be aware of safety precautions.
“I’m not anticipating a huge problem,” Mr. Haggmark said. “It’s dependent on the intensity as to how much of an impact it’s going to have, but I think we’ll be fine.
“I’m not worried yet. If we get another major event on top of this, that might increase my concerns.”
Residents can pick up sandbags free of charge and are encouraged to monitor radio and TV, and visit the city’s website, www.santabarbaraca.gov, for updates and announcements.
Upon visiting the sandbag station, residents should bring their own gloves and shovels and be prepared to fill the bags they need. In addition, they should only fill the bags halfway so they’re not too heavy to lift and will stack properly. Each resident may take 20 sandbags per trip.
Pre-filled sandbags are also available through the county, and those interested can call 805-568-3440.
To receive mobile alerts from local agencies on fire or flood warnings, text your zip code to 888777.