When residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura went to bed on December 4th, 2017, they didn’t know that a flame breaking out in Santa Paula would become the state’s largest recorded fire.
By the end of the year, the Thomas Fire forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate, destroyed at least 1,000 structures, took the life of a firefighter and cost over $200 million to fight.
About a month later, the night of January 8th, 2018, a winter storm prompted voluntary and mandatory evacuations in parts of Montecito, but no one knew how hard the community would get rocked. At around 3:30am, a powerful burst of rain caused mud and boulders from the Santa Ynez Mountains to flow down creeks and valleys into Montecito, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes.
One year later, facts like these are still hard to process, and there are plenty of unanswered questions out there.
How exactly have emergency alert systems improved? Has anyone in Montecito begun rebuilding, and how are they building differently? Are there still local support groups out there for natural disaster victims?
What questions do you have? Ask us, and we’ll begin investigating as these anniversaries draw near.