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Montecito is more than a tranquil seaside village. It is where we work and where we play. Where we grew up and where we are raising our children. Montecito is where we call home... and where we will continue to call home.
Recently, our beloved community endured a terrible tragedy. Despite many of the images you’ve likely seen on the news, much of Montecito’s natural beauty remains untouched. Many of the country’s celebrated entertainers, entrepreneurs, authors, and philanthropists - people who can live anywhere - choose to make Montecito their home. The community here, and beyond, are committed to rebuilding and residing in this incredible town we all love so dearly.
The spirit of our community has never been stronger. While there is rebuilding in our future, the truths of the past remain present: Montecito is wholly committed to rising and thriving in the face of adversity.
helping hands & healing hearts: Part 3
1. ways to give back
Please continue to support locally-owned businesses in Montecito! More than ever, shopping local is an important way to help our community thrive. Click here for a complete list of shops and restaurants. Pay it forward by purchasing gift certificates.
This incredible group of volunteers is helping people by cleaning up their properties of mud and debris.
In addition to field volunteers, the Bucket Brigade is in need of financial support. Click here to donate.
Email TeaFireRelief@gmail.com or call at 805-969-2026 if you need help or wish to volunteer.
Saturday, February 24 from 2-6pm, a similar event to the Cash Mob is planned for Montecito’s beloved Upper Village. Mark your calendar for another great afternoon of supporting our local stores. We hope to see you there!
Sunday, February 25th, 12-6pm Join an expected 2,500+ people to celebrate our first responders! Sited at the spectacular Nesbitt Bella Vista Estate in Summerland, the event will be part music festival, part family fair, and 100% about bringing our community together in the aftermath of tragedy. With live music, food, drink, and entertainment for the kids, the event has been completely underwritten by the immediate and extraordinary generosity of individuals and local foundations. Come celebrate with first responders, and local heroes.
February 23rd to March 4th - Try restaurants you’ve dreamed of dining at and experience a 3-course meal that will guarantee to leave you feeling full all for a prix fixe price. There are options for every budget.
Restaurants include favorites like Blackbird, Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Tre Lune, Lucky’s, Loquita, and many more! Click here for a complete list of restaurants
SB Restaurant Week has partnered with the California Restaurant Association Foundation. 50% of proceeds from restaurant registration will go to CRAF’s grant program, Restaurants Care, that offers financial relief for restaurant/hospitality workers who experienced losses during the Thomas Fire and Mudslide.
Many people have questions about insurability in Montecito. Are new homeowners’ policies being written? Can existing policies be renewed? We reached out to Grace Neumann, Vice President of Chivaroli Premier Insurance Services, for a conversation about her experience helping clients navigate the insurance market post-fire and debris flow.
“I just had a long conversation with our marketing manager at AIG. He said it’s business as usual for them. There are no areas off limits and they would underwrite on a case by case basis like they always have
In regards to the red zone mapping, AIG has not incorporated that into their underwriting and it has not impacted their underwriting. There are no areas off limits to them and there are no moratoriums. AIG is actively looking to write business.
Other carriers are writing in Montecito too. The underwriters are taking a close look at each risk, again like they did before.
I wanted to reiterate that I feel people are taking a huge gamble if they don’t have Flood/Excess Flood coverage. The further we get away from the Thomas Fire, the harder it’s going to be for the carriers to find the approximate cause the Fire.
On the Flood coverage, there is a 30 day waiting period for the National Flood program. Chubb has a 7 day wait on Flood coverage and AIG has no wait on their Flood coverage.” Grace Neumann, February 22, 2018
This is great news for Montecito’s present and future homeowners. As a reminder, each property’s situation is unique and it is always best to contact your insurance agent with specific questions.
3. monitoring storms
new high-tech rain gauges
In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow, the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District installed six additional real-time rain gauges to provide enhanced rainfall monitoring for the impacted areas.
In cooperation with the National Parks Service, three new high-tech gauges were installed at weather monitoring stations on the Channel Islands, located at Anacapa, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. These gauges electronically dispatch storm information to the National Weather Service (NWS) and are vital in giving advance warning of the direction and intensity of storms approaching south Santa Barbara County.
In order to improve the NWS’s ability to predict the location and intensity of local rainfalls, three additional gauges have been installed in the watersheds above Montecito (see map). With such a large geographic area at risk from future storms, the pin-pointing of rainfall patterns will provide valuable feedback to the NWS as they work to make their advance predictions more accurate.
“These rain gauges will improve the ability of the National Weather Service to have more accurate modeling and therefore better predictions,” says Rob Lewin, Director of the County’s Office of Emergency Management.
There are now 95 gauges countywide that transmit data to the NWS in real-time. The system enhancements are a collaborative effort between the County’s Flood Control District, the NWS, the National Parks Service and the California Geological Survey.
ReadySBC.org website. Check out their FAQ page for useful information.
trauma and grief therapy
Trauma and Grief TherapyDirectory for Santa Barbara Mudslide & Fire Survivors and Families. For a complete list of sessions offered by licensed therapists, click here.
The American Red Cross: Offering disaster mental health services
www.redcross.org/volunteer (800)REDCROSS or (805) 687-1331
Hospice of Santa Barbara: Offering grief therapy for all ages
www.hospiceofsantabarbara.org (805) 563-8820
Santa Barbara Response Network: Offering psychological first aid (PSA)
www.sbresponsenetwork.org (805) 699-5608
Is a fantastic resource for the most up to date information on maps, road closures and openings, clean up tips and resources, future evacuations, etc. If you are not a member of the Montecito Association, we highly encourage you to join. Click here for quick and easy membership information.
Helping hands & healing hearts: part 2
1. resources for up-to-date information
ReadySBC.org released a new map of areas at risk for future debris flow. Check out their helpful site to see the map, sign up for alerts, and view other tips should an evacuation order be placed in the future. If you missed the press release or community meeting, you can view the here. Being prepared and aware is key!
The Montecito Association is a fantastic resource for the most up to date information on maps, road closures and openings, clean up tips + resources, future evacuations, etc. If you are not a member of the Montecito Association, we highly encourage you to join. Click Here for quick and easy membership information.
2. getting aid and giving back
This site was established to support local workers and families in Montecito whose regular employment have been impacted by the Thomas Fire and debris flow. Recipients of 93108fund grants are hourly wage earners who were unable to work due to the closures in Montecito: shop-keepers, clerks, food service employees, gas station attendants, small store employees, caregivers, and many others who were impacted by the recent disaster. CLICK for more information.
After the fire, this dedicated team came together with a desire to unify and heal as a community and to honor both our First Responders and Thomas Fire victims. After the debris flows, they are also collecting donations for emergency equipment, counseling services, and survivor relief. Known as "805 One," this group is organizing the "Kick Ash Bash" which will take place on Sunday, February 25 from 12-6pm at the Nesbitt Bella Vista Estate in Summerland. Part music festival, part family fair, and 100% bringing our community together, this event generously benefits Fire, Police, Sheriff, CHP, and Direct Relief. Mark your calendars and see you there!
Saturday's cash mob was a success! Please continue to support locally-owned businesses in Montecito! More than ever, shopping local is important.
Celebrate Montecito's Upper Village
Saturday, February 24 from 2-6pm, a similar event to the Cash Mob is planned for the Upper Village. Mark your calendar for another great afternoon of supporting our local stores. More details to follow.
This incredible group of volunteers is working to help clean up their properties and access their homes.
*Email TeaFireRelief@gmail,com if you need this kind of assistance or if you want to volunteer. Put "NEED HELP" in the subject line and in the body of the email, indicate the kind of help you need.
3. Frequently asked questions
Wondering what to do with mud and debris on your property? Do you need a permit for removal? What should be done if you find hazardous waste during cleanup?
The ReadySBC.org website has answers to these questions and more. Check out their FAQ page for useful information.
Trauma and Grief Therapy Directory for Santa Barbara Mudslide & Fire Survivors and Families
Thank you to the following agencies for being front and center in serving the immediate needs of the community in the aftermath of the fire and mudslide!
The American Red Cross: Offering disaster mental health services
(800)REDCROSS or (805) 687-1331
Hospice of Santa Barbara: Offering grief therapy for all ages
Many licensed Santa Barbara therapists are generously offering up to six FREE trauma & grief therapy sessions until May 2018. for a complete list of providers, please see the link below. Mental health is a huge component of wellness and this is an excellent opportunity to help process the recent events.
For a complete list of sessions offered by licensed therapists, click here.
Returning to your neighborhood
Returning to your home for the first time may be a traumatic experience. The escort is designed to ensure your physical safety as you visit your residence for the first time, and provide support during what may be a very emotional time. You may feel overwhelmed by the many tasks ahead, but remember that self care is the vital first step for you to remain healthy and resilient. Below is a summary of ways to take action.
Your right to privacy
The media has been keeping our community informed during this fire and storm event and continues to pursue stories about the impacts. If you are approached by reporters or camera crews as you return to your neighborhood, remember that you have no obligation to consent to interviews, photographs, or filming.
Be aware of these critical issues that you may face when returning home and exercise caution:
- Trees, brush, and rocks may be weakened or loosened, and may lose limbs or fall
- Rocks loosened by flood and debris may roll and crumble. If rocks have rolled down a slope, expect more to follow
- There may be debris or damage on roads and driveways.
- Animal remains may be present in the debris. If found, call Animal Services at (805) 681-4332
If your vehicle is missing please contact California Highway Patrol at (805) 477-4174 with your vehicle identification number or license plate number
- Call 811 before you dig! Or request a ticket online through call811.com.
- Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams, etc.
- Look for visible damages to gas meters, gas lines, or propane tanks. DO NOT attempt to repair or turn on these services. Instead, call your local propane company or SoCalGas.
- Look for visible damage to the electric meter. DO NOT ATTEMPT to turn the breaker on or off.
- STAY CLEAR of electrical wire on the ground. Contact Southern California Edison.
- DO NOT use open flame as a source of light since gas may still be present.
red and yellow placards
For buildings that have been damaged or destroyed, building inspectors have identified them according to hazard level and posted color-coded placards onsite.
RED PLACARDS: If your structure has been marked with a red placard, then that particular structure is NOT SAFE FOR ENTRY OR OCCUPANCY. Mud and debris are likely inside.
YELLOW PLACARDS: If your structure has been marked with a yellow placard, then that structure should be ENTERED WITH CAUTION.
helping hands & healing hearts
Earlier this week, our team attended the public panel discussion on how to move forward with Montecito’s rebuilding and recovery. On the panel was a FEMA representative, professional trauma expert, an insurance law specialist, and a contractor with an extensive background in disaster remediation. Below is a summary of the meeting.
1. County Emergency Management
A) The future. Next Monday the County of Emergency Management will be rolling out a game plan to prepare for the next storms. There are two kinds of storms we need to worry about: storms we see coming and those that sneak up on us. They will provide all the information they can to help us to be prepared for these as they don’t want us living in fear. County Emergency Management wants us moving forward with hope but used to the idea that we will need to leave sometimes. We get the choice of being survivors or victims. They want us to see ourselves as survivors!!
B) Mud and Debris. People are being told to put the mud in one area on their property and hold onto it until they can find a place to take all of it. An emergency permit request is out. There are some sites you can take the mud to but it’s very expensive, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The government can not afford to take your mud away. Some will have to stay, some will have to be moved but we will have to work to figure it all out. They are writing a plan as we speak.
C) The disaster zone. The disaster zone designation is scheduled to go away. They want people to secure their properties as soon as possible: meet with contractors or companies to put up fencing or board the house up. Officials will be lifting these zones in a couple of weeks!! NOW is the time to secure your property.
D) Dust. They are going to be looking into some sort of dust mitigation. Since using good water to wet down the roads isn’t ideal, they are looking into alternative water to be trucked in to wet down the roads.
A community recovery and resiliency support group is being formed. Our team signed up to receive emails on this so we will continue to update our website with information as we have more details.
3. Rebuilding (Bryan Henson, Allen and Associates)
There are three steps that are critical to successfully moving forward:
A) Get informed:
Know what your insurance contract says:
- Coverage A: your house.
- Coverage B: structures not attached to your house (garage, guest house, pools, gates, walkways, etc.)
- Extended Coverage: this will increase your Coverage A limit, should you need it.
- Contents: this can be a tedious and overwhelming task, but is necessary. If possible, review old photos and videos to document possessions
- Additional Living Expenses (ALE) : this covers your expenses while out of your house. Most policies say you have 12 months, but you have 24 months under a disaster declaration such as this.
- Buried deep in your policy are three more sections to be sure to read:
- debris removal
- trees and shrubs
- code upgrade
Talk to your adjuster and have them help you navigate your policy! They’re your ally in the beginning … until they’re not. For the most part they are good people and they want to help. But also remember only you can be your own advocate.
B) Learn to become your own advocate:
Get comfortable fighting for what you need and deserve. Don’t rely on anyone else to be an advocate for you, they won’t.
C) Build your team:
There are a LOT of people in the construction community that just want to help!! Don’t be bashful to ask for the help. Put together a team of people that can help you to navigate this process. Rely on their expertise. Bring in contractor, architect and engineer early and at the same time.
4. Getting Aid (Insurance Law Specialist, Ray Bourhis and FEMA)
Insurance: Ray Bourhis.
State Farm suit: The exclusions in your policy are meaningless if the reason for the flood is an underlying cause that is covered by insurance.
Additional Living Expenses (ALEs): Ask to speak with the claims manager if your insurance tried to cap your ALEs to 2 weeks.
Personal Property inventory: Under most insurance policies, they have to give you replacement value for everything NOT a depreciation value! In some cases you have to pay to replace it first and if you do, they have to reimburse you! Do not let them try to pay you based on the depreciation value. You are entitled to be paid what it costs you to replace.
The deadline for applying for FEMA is March 16th. You can apply online. Even if you don’t want to take a loan, you should add it to your list of items to do because you may not think you need it now, but months down the line you may wish you had it available to you. FEMA is there if you are denied by insurance or don’t have insurance. FEMA’s program is not to make you whole again but to help you survive and make you function in a sanitary and safe environment. FEMA does not replace food. She mentioned that this County is the most organized and well-resourced County she has ever seen. FEMA will assist people with paying or reimbursing people for their ALEs but they do not duplicate expenses. The FEMA representative recommends having an organizer on your team. What was easy as part of normal life before will not be easy now. FEMA will assist with essentials you need to replace. They can also help with moving and storage. But again just essential items. They will also help pay for medical, dental, funerals, child care costs and things of the such. In order to qualify, you will have to have your insurance statements available. Disaster unemployment assistance is also available for lost wages. SBA is also available for small business loans. You can go online to apply.
NEED HELP OR WANT TO HELP?
SB BUCKET BRIGADE will be working this weekend with volunteers to help people clean up their properties so they can at least access their houses.
Email TeaFireRelief@gmail.com if you need this kind of assistance or if you want to volunteer. Put NEED HELP in the subject line and in the body of the email, indicate the kind of help you need.
The 93108Fund.Org has been established to support local workers and families in Montecito, whose daily work lives have been impacted by the devastating Thomas Fire and more recent mudslides. These are hourly wage earners who could not work their hours due to the closures in Montecito. Shop-keepers, clerks, food service employees, gas station attendants, small store employees, caregivers, and many others who were impacted by the recent disaster.
Click for more information and ways to donate.
Businesses on Coast Village Road are suffering due to the fire and mudslides, and we need to do everything we can to support them while the roads remain closed. Please support them online for now through their online stores, GoFundMe pages, or by visiting them at their secondary locations in Santa Barbara. Please visit them once they are accessible.
ER Leather Goods
50% of all sales will be donated to Direct Relief
Santa Barbara Soaps
100% of the proceeds of these locally made soaps benefit Direct Relief
more ways to Help
- Shop locally. Support small businesses and restaurants who have suffered loss of business, been forced to temporarily close their doors, and are using their own resources to aid first responders and evacuees.
- Donate books. Montecito Union School has put together an Amazon wishlist for books that they will need in the coming weeks. MUS teachers and students are without regular classroom supplies.
- Give money to the agencies directly involved in local relief efforts. The greatest need of organizations like Direct Relief, United Way, and the Unity Shoppe is cash donations.
- Santa Barbara Helpers makes a direct connection between families’ needs, and families who can support those needs. They also link community resources such as: housing, temporary work, community events, lost and found, etc.
- Connect those who are looking for work and those who are looking for employees in the Thomas Fire/Flood Temp Work Group.
- Give blood. Make an appointment with United Blood Services.
- Register yourself to volunteer on Red Cross website.
- Volunteer at the Foodbank or Carpinteria Food Pantry, or collect non-perishable foods.
Currently, access on Montecito roads is reserved for major debris-moving equipment, trucks hauling mud, first responders, and other emergency vehicles. Road clearance is ongoing and roads continue to be cleared, allowing access in both directions. The 101 is currently expected to open on Monday, January 22 although cleanup is ongoing and this date could be delayed depending on progress. The Amtrak train is running so residents and commuters have an option to travel between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara.
Southern California Edison has restored power on Coast Village Road. They confirmed that 76 electric poles were destroyed in the storm though 1,400 homes are still without power in the area. So Cal Gas has said that for safety, they will turn gas service back on residence-by-residence. Montecito Sanitary District continues to check their facilities, but preliminary reports on the status of their service have been positive. Montecito Water District is still working diligently to restore service to the community, though they too have a long road ahead. Cox, our local cable and internet company, is also working to restore their systems.
During cleanup and recovery efforts, the County of Santa Barbara has asked residents respect the mandatory evacuation zone. This is both for public safety and to expedite the task of restoring utilities and clearing debris.
FEMA has declared the individual relief portion of the mudslide disaster, meaning there is assistance available to you for loss of property, business, etc. Application can be made online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by phone 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585, or from the FEMA app at fema.gov/mobile-app.
For those trying to file insurance claims, you may hit a stumbling block as Coast Village Rd was not included in the mandatory evacuation zone. According to the Montecito Association, Sheriff Brown is willing to sign a declaration that could be used with your insurance company stating this was a closed zone and no one could get in due to restricted access. We will update this page once we receive the signed declaration, for use in filing claims.
Joe Holland, from the county Assessor's Office, said they are doing assessments in the area now with the intention of dropping the property values to lower property taxes to help you.
Our Beloved Rebecca
It is with heavy hearts we share that our dear friend and partner, Rebecca Riskin, has passed away as a result of the tragic flooding and mudslides in Montecito. The confirmation of her loss is incredibly devastating to her friends, family, and our community. Per her wishes, we intend to carry out her life’s work with the same strength, grace and elegance that wholly defined Rebecca. Rebecca was an exceptional woman, and her legacy will continue to live on and thrive through her children, Robert and Julia, her husband Ken Grand, and her namesake firm, Riskin Partners.
If you are looking for a way to honor Rebecca and support our community, please donate to the Tri-Counties Regional Center. The non-profit provides support and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities living in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Details on a service and memorial are forthcoming.
Checks can be made payable to:
TCRC Client Help Fund
520 East Montecito Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Tax ID #: 95-2623230
Montecito Strong artwork by Pedro De La Cruz