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Downpours douse Santa Barbara County streets, force flooded roads to close

Wednesday and Thursday’s downpours turned a Montecito road into a river of muddy water.

Cars and cyclists on Bella Vista Drive were cut off by mud and debris where the road meets Romero Creek.

“Lo and behold, we got more stuff off the mountain,” cyclist Daniel Girard said after the closure interrupted his early-afternoon ride. “My first reaction was a little bit of gratitude, actually, because it doesn’t look like it’s anything that did damage anywhere. So it’s like ‘ok, sure, some stuff’s still moving off the hillsides’ but it doesn’t look catastrophic. And I’m kind of crossing fingers that nobody got hurt.”

Girard also says he appreciates the crews that clean up after storms like these.

“A big thanks to all the cyclists who have been patient with the road crews that are putting our roads back together. It’s a huge job. And a big thanks to [the road crews] for getting us back on track.”

Those crews began moving mud Thursday afternoon. After January’s tragic debris flow, three pipes were installed under the pavement to carry Romero Creek’s water under the road.

Those pipes were completely blocked with mud Thursday morning, sending water gushing over the road surface. One of the drainage pipes was functional again by Thursday evening.

Elsewhere along the Santa Ynez Mountains, Old San Marcos Road closed Thursday between Twinridge Road and Highway 154 due to slippery conditions. Santa Barbara County Public Works said that stretch of road will be closed through the night and re-evaluated Friday morning.

The storms also caused rocks to break through netting on Gibraltar Road and spill onto the pavement.

Santa Barbara County Public Works says Bella Vista Drive will likely be closed near Romero Creek through at least the weekend, as rain remains in the forecast and more flooding is possible. Public Works is working to prevent dangerous flooding from the storms.

“We have our flood control maintenance crews out there right now,” Public Works public information officer Lael Wageneck said. “And they’re in Cold Springs Basin and San Ysidro Basin, and they are digging a channel through there to make sure that water continues to flow through there smoothly.”

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