Conflicting California Mudslide Warnings Were Issued, Report Shows

In the days before mudslides devastated California neighborhoods, officials released conflicting evacuation orders that left some hard-hit neighborhoods out of the warning zone, a newspaper reported.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office had posted on its website and on Facebook a list of voluntary and mandatory evacuation areas for the coastal town of Montecito, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Calif. Debris Removal Presents Health, Environmental Risks

Last week, Santa Barbara, California suffered 20 casualties, countless injuries and millions of dollars in property damage due to the unprecedented mudslides that tore through the city of Montecito. Search and rescue efforts continue in the aftermath of the phenomenon, which was caused by the heavy rains washing away ground laid bare by the Thomas Fire in December 2017. The resulting millions of pounds of debris left behind present biological and environmental risks to the area. Returning residents have been warned to protect against potentially hazardous chemicals and untreated sewage that were swept along with the mudslide debris. Meanwhile, where all this mud and debris will be moved to presents another dilemma.

California Mudslides: Residents Commit to Rebuilding

At the end of a heartbreaking week that saw deadly mudslides kill at least 20, residents of Montecito gathered to grieve, pay tribute to victims and commit to rebuilding their cherished community on the Southern California coast.

Mourners lit prayer candles and left flowers as a makeshift memorial for the victims after shedding tears, hugs and prayers during the vigil over the weekend outside the Santa Barbara County courthouse.

Does Effective Emergency Preparedness Need to Start with Local Businesses?

When a major storm rolls into an area, there are often numerous citizens who believe the storm will be dangerous. Then there’s the second camp — the more dangerous camp — who may not believe the storm will be all that intense and do not effectively prepare themselves for the storm.

For emergency managers, people who are unprepared for emergencies creates a number of problems. For instance, lack of citizen preparation creates dangerous situations for public safety employees.

These local residents may not believe they need to prepare, because they think that they will still have access to numerous resources during a disaster. Social scientists often pinpoint this type of behavior to determine whether there is a behavior pattern that can be altered.

Emergency managers have long posited that more education helps individuals to know how they can effectively prepare for a disaster. But education often only goes so far — it does not take away the need for disaster preparation.

California Mudslide Victims ID’d as Crews Continue Survivor Search

The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before. He died with his wife of more than 50 years, Alice.

The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.

The number of reported deaths from the mudslide has reached 17.

“At this moment, we are still looking for live victims,” Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said. But he confessed: “The likelihood is increasing that we’ll be finding bodies, not survivors. You have to start accepting the reality of that.”

At least 13 Dead as Heavy Rains Trigger Flooding, Mudflows and Freeway Closures Across Southern California

(TNS) - At least 13 people were killed Tuesday when a rainstorm sent mud and debris coursing through Montecito neighborhoods and left rescue crews to scramble through clogged roadways and downed trees to search for victims.

The deluge that washed over Santa Barbara County early Tuesday was devastating for a community that was ravaged by the Thomas fire only a few weeks earlier. In just a matter of minutes, pounding rain overwhelmed the south-facing slopes above Montecito and flooded a creek that leads to the ocean, sending mud and massive boulders rolling into residential neighborhoods, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.

At least 25 other people were injured, authorities said at an afternoon press conference. Crews rescued 50 people by air and dozens more from the ground.

Workplace fatalities: 25 most dangerous jobs in America

It was not until 1970 that Congress, under President Richard Nixon, passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. There were 14,000 workplace fatalities that year. As part of the act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was established to set and enforce safety standards in the workplace. Since then, standards have improved and workplace fatalities have declined to less than 5,200 in 2016. Still, some jobs remain far more dangerous than others.

Today, the vast majority of working Americans are relatively safe in their work environment. Across all industries in both the public and private sectors, there were 3.6 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. For certain professionals, such as school teachers and administrators or writers and editors, mistakes almost never have physical ramifications, and workplace fatality rates hover just above zero.

When a Gunman Opens Fire, Do You Know How to Save a Life?

(TNS) — Doug Reynolds didn't like the feeling of resignation that swept over him as he learned of one horrific mass shooting after another.

Twenty-six people had lost their lives in the house of the Lord in November, gunned down during Sunday services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

A few weeks prior, 58 others were shot dead and 489 injured at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.

He thought of the dozens killed at Orlando's Pulse nightclub a year before that, and realized that although he couldn't stop the pace of mass shootings, he might be able to help in another way.

"It was kind of cumulative. The recurring theme always is that people are dying because they’re bleeding to death," said Reynolds, 58, of Farmington.

Rains Finally Arrive, Bringing New Danger in California's Vast Fire Zones

REPORTING FROM MONTECITO, Calif. — In the mountains above coastal Santa Barbara County, the vegetation is typically so deep and lush that it can soak up a half-inch of rainwater before it flows downhill.

But that was before the Thomas fire swept through in December, burning those trees and brush to the ground. Now, the rain has no buffer, and that is cause for alarm.

"It hits the dirt directly and it is instant runoff and carries that sediment," Thomas D. Fayram, the deputy public works director for the county, told concerned residents at a community meeting several weeks ago.

Southern California is about to get its first significant rainstorm in nearly a year this week, with more than 4 inches of rain expected in burn areas.

Wine Country Fires Prompt New Alert Legislation

(TNS) — North Bay lawmakers have introduced a bill to bolster the ability of emergency officials to contact residents who may be in harm’s way — a topic that has been scrutinized since last year’s devastating wildfires.

The legislation, introduced by multiple lawmakers, including state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, would create uniform statewide emergency notification protocols. It also would require all counties to develop and adopt guidelines for using Wireless Emergency Alerts, a federally administered system that can send Amber Alert-style messages to cell phones in a disaster area.

As The Chronicle and others have reported, many North Bay residents said they received no official warning and were blindsided by the rapidly spreading flames that sparked in multiple counties in October.


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