Santa Barbara County issues evacuation warning ahead of storm

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- Officials in Santa Barbara elevated the pre-evacuation advisory for burn areas to a recommended evacuation warning Wednesday before the next storm, which is expected to bring rain starting Thursday.

The recommended evacuation warning was issued for the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas, which includes parts of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria. The warning was set to go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Residents in these areas are urged to leave while they can.

MORE: Chilling 911 calls made during Montecito mudslides released

The January mudslides are still fresh in everyone's mind. At least 20 people were killed.

This next storm is expected to dump up to two-thirds of an inch of rain -- per hour -- at times, which could trigger another round of mud and debris flows near burn areas.

Crews were working feverishly Wednesday to clear as much debris as possible ahead of the incoming rain.

Officials announced earlier this month that they're no longer using the word "voluntary" in their evacuation alerts. There are concerns that the warnings they pushed out before the deadly storm were ineffective in getting people to actually leave.

Steve Halsted, a resident of Montecito, said he and his friends were among a group who might not have left before the deadly mudslides. This time, Halsted said, things are different.

"We're going to go and our friends are going to go because they might not have gone before, but the realize that either they're going to get mud, maybe, or they're going to get trapped for four or five days, and so people are leaving," Halsted said.
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