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Santa Barbara County receives report card on recent disasters

One year after the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslides, Santa Barbara County receive its official report card, rating their performance during the disasters.

Katie Freeman, a project manager for a Hagerty Consulting, says an After-Action report is required by the State as well as FEMA following a natural disaster.

Freeman says the Thomas Fire and mudslides are still on-going, so legally for the County, this report is not required.

“The County thought it was important for the report to be done before winter storms begin and capture both the areas of improvement and then begin to take action on it.”

The report provides information about the things the county did right, and which areas need to be improved.

“The county did a wonderful job of distributing information through the joint information center, including making sure that that information was translated in Spanish, and was accessible across multiple platforms,” said Freeman.

The report says how the County notifies the public to evacuations could use some improvement.

“We are going to provide to the public what will now be very simple and clear,” said Robert Lewin, the Director of Emergency Management. “We are going to use a system that has been used in wildfire for years called Ready Set Go, as we prepared the community for evacuations.”

The “Ready” portions will notify residents nearly 72 hours before a storm arrives.

“At about 48 hours to 24 hours we are going to tell the public to get “Set, and this is an evacuation warning,” said Lewin. “This is the time that they need to prepare and gather belongings and know where they are going if they have to evacuate, so when we do the last phase which is “Go” they are ready to leave immediately because we issued an evacuation order.”

Interactive maps are also being improved so the public will have an easier time understanding which areas are at risk.

Santa Barbara County will host two community informational meetings about preparing for potential evacuations.

One will be held on October 25th at Montecito Union School at 5:30 p.m. and the other one will take place on October 29th at Veterans Memorial Building in Carpinteria at 5:30 p.m.

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