Santa Maria officials say the city’s topography makes it ripe for flooding under the right conditions and is encouraging residents to be ready for such a scenario in advance.
As of Jan. 27, the National Weather Service was predicting heavy rains in Santa Maria
through Thursday and issued a wind advisory
in Santa Barbara County until Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. It predicted winds as strong as 30 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 45 miles per hour.
“Once the rain starts, residents should consider staying home when possible,” a city statement said.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company Marketing and Communications Representative Mark Mesesan said there was “significant outage activity” across PG&E’s statewide service area as of Jan. 27, though only five customers in Santa Maria were experiencing outages at the time. Most of the activity was in North SLO County, he said, in Paso, Templeton, Atascadero, Margarita, and SLO city.
“We’re prepared for what we’re seeing, which is a major storm with gusty winds and moderate to heavy rainfall, and so we expect the Central Coast to continue to be in the bullseye of the storm for the next two or three days,” Mesesan said. “We’ll be working around the clock to respond to outages that occur, and any other issues with potential damage to equipment.”
Santa Maria’s “flat landscape and limited areas for water to flow away” makes it more susceptible to flooding, according to Santa Maria officials. The city’s statement said trained staff would be actively clearing debris from storm drains and are “ready to respond to downed trees.”
Both Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County are providing residents with sandbag materials at various locations to protect against flooding. The city has sand set aside at Suey Crossing, the 2000 block of Western, the Public Works Yard at 830 West Cypress (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), on West Carmen Lane (west of Depot Street), and on San Ysidro Street (west of Miller Street), according to the city’s statement. The county is offering both sand and bags at 912 West Foster Road with a 25 bag per person limit. Residents can head to the city’s website for an informational video
on how to fill sandbags.
Santa Maria additionally recommended that residents have extra supplies of food, water, and medicine on hand, as well as an emergency kit with working flashlights and first aid. The county recommended that households prepare or update their emergency plans.
“Keep in mind any additional needs of individuals in your family with access and functional needs and other disabilities,” Office of Emergency Management Director Kelly Hubbard said in a county statement. “Plan ahead for pets and livestock. And consider any COVID-19 related updates to your emergency kit, such as face coverings and hand sanitizer.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown added that people should follow their gut instincts when deciding to relocate to a safer area.
“Do not wait for an alert or public safety personnel to tell you to leave,” he said.
Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig encouraged residents to keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts.
“When ordered to go, leave immediately,” he said. Δ