Evacuation warning issued for area devastated by mudslide

LOS ANGELES (AP) — People living in an area devastated by mudslides were urged Tuesday to think about fleeing as a winter storm bore down on the foothills northwest of Los Angeles.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced that a recommended evacuation warning would go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday for Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Evacuations aren't mandatory but a "high risk for loss of life and property exists," the statement warned.

Information on evacuation centers and animal shelters were to be announced Wednesday.

The area is still trying to recover from a fire in December that destroyed entire neighborhoods and left mountains above the communities burned bare of brush and trees whose roots might have stabilized the soil.

Last month, rain sent tons of mud and debris smashing into homes in Montecito, killing more than 20 people.

The Sheriff's Office said a storm moving in Thursday night and continuing through Friday was expected to dump up to two-thirds of an inch of rain per hour in the area — a downfall heavy enough to create isolated mudflows near the burned areas.

"If at any time people feel threatened, take immediate action," the statement warned.

The Sheriff's Office already had issued a "pre-evacuation advisory" for the region because of a storm that moved through the area on Monday, although it dropped little rain.

The approach of the first storm put Montecito residents on edge and before its arrival some already had planned to go.

"We don't feel safe when there is any rain in this neighborhood," Ben Hyatt told KSBY-TV. "When there is any kind of warning we are leaving. Period."

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Photo: Getty Images

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