Santa Barbara County residents are navigating another environmental disaster just weeks after the largest wildfire in California history wreaked havoc on the coastal community.
Heavy rains brought flash flooding and massive mud flows to Montecito, and as of Jan. 10, 17 people have been confirmed dead and about 17 people remain missing, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
About 100 homes were destroyed, and 300 more were damaged in the mudslides.
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Here’s how you can support the mudslide victims and evacuees:
After raising more than $2.6 million for the Thomas Fire Fund, the United Way of Santa Barbara County and the United Way of Ventura County have re-established their support effort as the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund.
The fund was initially established in December when the Thomas Fire started. According to public relations director Angel Pacheco, 100 percent of the donations will support those in communities affected by the wildfires and flooding.
Checks with “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo line can be mailed to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003. Checks also can be sent to the United Way of Santa Barbara County at 320 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
“It’s heartbreaking that just weeks after the Thomas Fire devastated the Central Coast, our community is again facing terrible destruction and the tragic loss of family and friends,” said Steve Ortiz, United Way of Santa Barbara County President and CEO, and Eric Harrison, President and CEO, United Way of Ventura County, in a statement released Wednesday.
The Santa Barbara Humane Society is offering support to those affected by the severe weather and ensuing mudslides with emergency shelter for animals.
“We have food for most domestic animals if you were not able to grab supplies before evacuating,” said a post on the organization’s Facebook page.
Clair Lofthouse, the Humane Society’s public relations manager, told Noozhawk.com on Tuesday night that the shelter could accommodate 35 more evacuated dogs and 34 cats.
“We always take evacuees free of charge, and it’s one way we are most proud to serve the community,” Lofthouse said. “We are glad people are bringing their animals. Heeding the mandatory evacuations is important.”
More than 50 people used the American Red Cross evacuation center at Santa Barbara City College on Tuesday night.
According to a post on the American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast Facebook page, the organization has “everything we need to meet the immediate needs of the residents at our shelter.”
At this time, the most efficient way to support Red Cross Disaster Relief is through a financial donation, the organization says.
Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Direct Relief, which helps disaster victims across the world by providing medicine and medical supplies, has staff on the ground in Montecito.
“Evacuations often leave people with chronic conditions vulnerable when medicines are not brought along,” wrote Direct Relief reporter Lara Cooper. “Without extra medication to manage diabetes, hypertension or asthma, a person can fall into medical crisis, forcing an emergency room visit or worse.”
To donate, visit directrelief.org/donate, click “Direct my donation to” and choose “Southern California Fires & Mudslides” from the drop-down menu.
Several GoFundMe campaigns have been established this week, including one called “Feed the Firemen of Montecito” aimed to help firefighters and first responders working in Montecito.
More than $3,400 had been raised toward a $100,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.
“After the first responders are finished, anything left over will be contributed directly back into the Montecito community to those who have lost everything,” wrote campaign organizer Neil Lund.
Here are some other GoFundMe campaigns for those affected by the mudslides:
▪ For the family of Martín Cabrera Munoz, who was killed in the mudslides. Goal: $6,000
▪ For the owner of the Rose Cafe, who lost his partner, Peter Fleurant. Goal: $30,000
▪ For the McManigal family, who lost their father. Goal: $35,000
▪ A Santa Barbara Storm Distaster Relief campaign also has been established by resident Olivia Huynh. Goal: $10,000