Santa Barbara County communities affected by recent mudslides and flooding will be getting additional federal disaster relief funds to help offset emergency response and recovery costs.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced on Thursday the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency (FEMA) granted California’s request to expand the disaster declaration already in place in areas affected by the Thomas Fire, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The declaration will now include damage from the flooding and mudslides that damaged Montecito and other Santa Barbara County communities after heavy storms hit areas scorched by the December wildfire.
Officials on Friday said at least 17 people died when mud, water and debris swept through the area. Twenty-eight people were injured and five are still missing, though that number was expected to fluctuate. Highway 101 remains closed from Highway 150 in Carpinteria to Milpas Street in Santa Barbara.
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The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated the State Operations Center in Mather to help manage the federal, state and local response to the flooding and mudslides. State Emergency Services urban search and rescue teams and emergency management staff have been assisting local crews in Santa Barbara County.
California National Guard water vehicles and helicopters are also on hand, in addition to Caltrans crews and California Highway Patrol officers.
“Our hearts break for the communities first ravaged by fires and now devastated by these mudslides,” Brown said in a statement. “We will push for every available resource to help Californians recover from these tragedies.”
Rep. Salud Carbajal, who represents California’s 24th Congressional District, on Friday sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for individual assistance funds to provide residents with housing assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, and crisis counseling.
“The devastation from the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides have taken the ultimate toll on our community, claiming dozens of lives, destroying hundreds of homes, and hurting small businesses on the Central Coast,” Carbajal said in a statement.“Individual assistance funding is critical to supporting the victims of the tragedies as our community rebuilds and recovers.”