This week marks the one year anniversary of the deadly 1/9 debris flow in Montecito which killed 23 people, injured more than 150, and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. With concern high that this year could bring more destructive debris flows, some residents formed a non-profit group which is trying to stand up to Mother Nature.
Work is set to get underway on a project to place 11 temporary debris flow protection nets in the foothills above Montecito.
Pat McElroy is Executive Director of the group, which is called the Partnership for Resilient Communities.
He says similar nets are already in use in about 40 locations around the state, and are custom designed for each spot.
The non-profit has been working with Santa Barbara County, as well as state and federal agencies to get permits for the emergency project. But, the effort is racing the calendar, as we move into the historically heaviest rainfall period of the year.
More than two million dollars has already been raised for the community funded project to try to prevent new catastrophic debris flows. But, the overall effort is expected to cost about seven million, so fundraising efforts are moving into high gear.
The nets are considered to be a temporary project. The permits are for five years, and it’s expected they will then be removed, as vegetation will have grown back to the point that they will no longer be needed.