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Serious street flooding, beached boats and a tornado warning wraps up Christmas

Boat debris
John Palminteri
Boat debris is all over Leadbetter Beach after a violent Christmas storm that also left streets flooded in many areas. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - One of the more tense Christmas nights in memory plowed through the South Coast with a major rain downpour and many closed-off streets.

Emergency responders did not have many rescues, but access points were pinched off in many locations.

Lower Anacapa Street had water blocking cars for most of a block. Santa Barbara City Firefighters called for road closure and flooding signs from the Public Works Department.

Chapala Street had waves of water around 7 p.m.

State Street from Cota to Haley was moving from side to side with a flow of water rarely seen. Those who went a bit further found a pool of water at the bottom of the underpass. Many drivers turned around, but some ran through at full speed causing a splash of water higher than their vehicles.

Calle Cesar Chavez was also closed due to flooding which made all lanes impassable.

Cabrillo Boulevard near Castillo Street had water over the curb near hotel entrances. At least one lane was a washout for half a block.

A tornado warning for the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas scared many people who had never experienced that advisory and did not know what to do. The powerful winds from that system hit a small portion of the Ventura Coastline around 10 p.m.

Many of the problem areas were drained off by morning, but the debris remained all over sidewalks, parks, curbs and in the streets.

Fencing in front of one business on West Cabrillo Boulevard was knocked down by the wind.

On the beach, a full-sized boat was in the sand by the East Beach volleyball courts.

Boat owner Michael Steinwand said, "It snapped it solid." The weather system, "came out of nowhere and slammed right here." He was hoping it could be salvaged.

Another boat was splintered into countless pieces from the breakwater wall to the far end of Leadbetter beach. It was a mess to clean up for parks and waterfront workers.

Some residents like Shoreline Cafe owner Steve Marsh helped out and picked up wood pieces, placing them in piles for the skip loader crew to haul out. He spent several hours with at least one other person trying to keep the debris from going back into the ocean. This included some paints from the vessel.

On Leadbetter beach,  another boat had a center section, but the rest was shattered into pieces across the waterfront to the harbor entrance.

Shoreline Cafe Owner Steve Marsh and a friend tried to help pick up wooden pieces and pile them up for a skip loader in the area. He said the boat was from the other side of Stearns Wharf. "This one was on the east side down in the graveyard as they call it and it had come all the way around and beached itself."

Marsh said some of the major damage was done at dawn. "The mast and the whole boat was still intact," around dawn. Then, "the tide came in and pretty much demolished the whole boat."

He was especially looking for hazardous waste. "Just a lot of toxic stuff and it was important to get some of it out of the water."

Article Topic Follows: Weather News
Santa Barbara

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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