Montecito residents allowed to return home after storm pounds area

Wet and dangerous -- two words used to describe what it was like to be in and around Montecito on Tuesday.

On January 9, 2018, an early morning storm wiped out properties and lives. Twenty-three people were killed and two never recovered. The early evacuation orders that preceded this latest storm no doubt reflected everyone's urgent desire to avoid a repeat of that night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no damages were reported, and amidst steady but light rain, the creeks are handling the water, and no significant debris flow occurred. Residents that had been under a mandatory evacuation in Montecito and in other burn areas in Santa Barbara County were allowed to return home at 6 p.m.

Last year may have been the ''perfect'' storm as many would like to believe, but it was also, according to analysts in a recent lengthy LA Times investigation, the result of too much construction in potential flood zones, the lack of clearance of catch basins and creeks, the lack of a current comprehensive emergency plan, and the lateness of the evacuation orders.

Most government leaders disagreed with that assessment. Either way, residents are making the most of a rainy Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says about 85 percent of those ordered to leave their homes on Tuesday actually evacuated, but there's forever a dark cloud over what is one of the most beautiful, exclusive, and serene areas of SoCal.