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Future storm impacts in Loma Fire burn area discussed at community meeting

Neighbors learn about storm-related concerns near Loma Fire burn area
Community meeting
Tracy Lehr / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-The recent closure to Loma Alta Drive below the Loma Fire burn area was the topic of discussion at a community meeting on Wednesday night.

The City of Santa Barbara Public Works Department hosted the meeting at McKinley Elementary School.

Streets Operations Manager Jim Dewey said they want to let neighbors know what they are planning and what the forecast is for storm-related impacts during the rainy season.

Although the rainy season has been impacted by drought, too much rain could pose problems.

Dewey said the conditions are not like the Thomas Fire which led to the Montecito debris flow

"The fire didn't burn as hot , this particular area is a north slope so it isn't really prone to sliding, it's just a whole different set up but out of an abundance of caution we have created a model where we can make some predictions on how the water is going to run off the hillside and we are fairly confident that we are going to be okay, especially with the K-rail there that it we do get any debris flows that the k-rail we believe will be barrier against that moving down the hill and affecting the community, " said Dewey.

Crews placed K-rails along the road two weeks ago.

Neighbors out walking their dogs don't seem to mind the closure.

Sue Moller was walking her dog Foxy Lady when she said the reduced traffic makes her walks quiet and safe.

There is a view of the ocean from the sidewalk.

Hydrologist and consultant Hassan Kasraie said the steep slope that burned in the fire is like a burnt brownie.

He said the soil develops a crust that won't soak up the rain.

His staff worked on a flood hazard application to recognize rain totals that could pose problems.

Rains expected are not likely to be above a category one.

That could cause some street flooding and debris, but it is not likely to cause a major slide that would topple the barriers.

Even so, the city's emergency services manager Yolanda McGlinchey said people need to have evacuation plans with more than one way out.

Residents should tell others in their household and family their plan.

She also suggested reading the fine print of insurance policies for flood and other disaster coverage.

Since disasters don't always happen from 9-to-5 she suggested having a disaster kit at home, at work and in your car.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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