Frustration mounts for mudslide-ravaged California town known for luxury and calm

Frustration mounts for mudslide-ravaged California town known for luxury and calm
From CBC - January 13, 2018

Frustrations and dark discoveries mounted Saturday for a California town ravaged by a deadly and destructive mudslide.

Most of the people of Montecito, which has a population of about 9,000 and is usually known for its serenity and luxury, were under orders to stay out of town as gas and power were expected to be shut off Saturday for repairs.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown on Thursday expanded what was known as the public safety exclusion zone to incorporate most of the town. That meant even those who had stayed behind would have to leave and those who entered the zone would be subject to arrest.

"It is a little frustrating," said Sarah Ettman, whose home was undamaged and whose section of town still had gas and electricity. "It's martial law here, basically."

However, with most utilities about to be cut off and sewage running into the nearby creek, she decided to heed the order to leave.

"I mean you are losing all your basic health and sanitation services," she said. "When those go down, you have to leave."

It was another difficult turn for those living in the Southern California town that has been subject to repeated evacuation orders in recent weeks, first because of a monster wildfire last month, then because of downpours and mudslides.

Cia Monroe said her family was lucky their home was not ruined and they were all healthy and safe, though her daughter lost one of her best friends.

But Monroe said it was stressful after evacuating three times during the wildfire to be packing up a fourth time. A family had offered them a room to stay overnight, but then they were looking at spending up to $3,000 a week for a hotel.

"Where do you go when you are a family of four and you do not have a second house?" Monroe asked, noting that some residents have third and fourth homes. "Financially that's a burden."

While Montecito is best known as a getaway for the rich and famous -- the median home price among current listings is more than $4 million US there are also working families living in modest houses and apartments.

More than 1,200 workers taking part in the search and cleanup effort flooded into the town.

A backhoe scooped up mud and rocks around buckled and flattened homes, while bulldozers cleared roads of tangled trees, muck and boulders. Tanker trucks were being used to haul off floodwaters sucked up from U.S. Highway 101, the crippled coastal route connecting Santa Barbara to Ventura.

The resort was not accepting reservations until at leastAugust, according to Cheyanna Rudd, a booking agent for anoutside company used by San Ysidro, but Maxine Rutledge, theresort manager, disputed the timeline.

She declined to provide further details on when the propertywould reopen, and said owner Ty Warner, the Beanie Babiesbillionaire who bought the place in 2000, did not have animmediate comment.

Franciscan monks also stayed on the property in the late 1700sand it served as a citrus ranch in the 1800s before opening toguests in 1893, according to a history on the ranch's website.


Continue reading at CBC »