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Disaster avoided as SoCal rain continues

November 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
There were no serious mudslides in burn areas after heavy overnight rain, but evacuation warnings were in effect in parts of Montecito and Yorba Linda Wednesday evening.Because the rain was falling so hard and fast, authorities didn't waste any time issuing mandatory evacuations in parts of Yorba Linda Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. With sirens and bullhorns, authorities evacuated Box Canyon, Brush Canyon and North Fairmount/San Antonio at about 3 a.m., areas that had voluntary evacuations on Tuesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, mandatory evacuations were reverted to voluntary evacuation warnings.

"We had received notice from the city of Yorba Linda on Monday night that we might have to evacuate, so we've had a lot of things packed and ready to go," said Wendy Sabins, a Box Canyon resident.

Residents in Yorba Linda had been preparing days before the storm hit, placing concrete barriers and sand bags around neighborhoods to slow mudslides.

An evacuation center has been set up in Yorba Linda for residents at the Thomas LaSorda Field house at 4701 Casa Loma Ave. in Yorba Linda.

By Wednesday afternoon, it looked like Yorba Linda neighborhoods had dodged a bullet. The rain fell hard, and the hillsides were barren, but the vulnerable hillsides were holding.

In Sylmar, no evacuations were ordered, but residents are worried about mudslides since the Sayre Fire scorched thousands of acres there earlier this month. Residents are very concerned that if it continues to rain, they may be hit hard with mudslides. Mudslides can destroy homes just as quickly as a fire can.

The burn areas of Montecito near Santa Barbara were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday due to concerns of mudslides and flooding, but the rain was not as heavy as feared. Evacuation orders there have been reduced to an evacuation warning, which means residents should be prepared to leave should conditions change.

Residents had been preparing for the storm, but on Wednesday morning, the area had not been hit by any heavy downpour. They had been prepared for the worst, but so far, the rain water has run off harmlessly.

"We're most concerned with debris flow, mudslides and flooding in the area of the Tea Fire burn area, and the residents that are below that area," said Geri Ventura, Montecito Fire Department.

A Red Cross Emergency Shelter was been set up at Santa Barbara High School at 700 East Anapamu in Santa Barbara.

About a dozen people checked into the shelter, but only two people stayed overnight. By Wednesday afternoon, residents were returning to their homes.

Eyewitness News reporters Leo Stallworth, Gene Gleeson and John Gregory contributed to this story


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