Residents didn’t heed voluntary evacuation before mudslide


By Michael Balsamo | Associated Press

Residents of the area hit the hardest by the deadly flash floods in Southern California didn’t heed a voluntary evacuation.

In Montecito, the vast majority of people under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders early Tuesday stayed in their homes, 400 of which were either destroyed or damaged. At least 17 people died.

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Evacuation orders are generally based on weather conditions, projected storm or fire patterns and the immanency of the threat.

Oftentimes, the feared devastating flames, floodwaters and mudslides don’t materialize. After false alarms, some residents opt to ignore voluntary evacuation requests.
But experts say disasters can change course in an instant.

“Disasters are very dynamic in danger. They can change from minute to minute,” said Scott Somers, an emergency management professor at Arizona State University. “Just because an area can be safe at 1 o’clock in the afternoon doesn’t mean it is going to be safe at 3 p.m.”

Jim and Alice Mitchell, whose house was swept away when the flash floods cascaded through their neighborhood, had not left their home because they were not under a mandatory order, their daughter, Kelly Weimer said Wednesday. Nearly every home on their block was completely destroyed and others were lifted and tossed from their foundation.

“They were in a voluntary evacuation area so they figured they were OK,” said Weimer, who has been frantically searching for her parents for more than a day. “They weren’t concerned. It’s not like anybody came around and told them to leave.”

Weimer, 53, spoke to her parents on Monday to wish her father a happy 89th birthday. The couple of more than five decades planned to stay in because of the rain …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

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