FEMA Flood Maps to Guide Montecito Rebuilding Described in Community Meeting

FEMA Flood Maps to Guide Montecito Rebuilding Described in Community Meeting

Updated flood hazard maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be ready for public review in June, FEMA officials said at a community meeting held Tuesday night. The anticipated FEMA “recovery maps” will provide a critical guide to development decisions in Montecito as the community recovers from the devastating 1/9 Debris Flow.

“The 1/9 Debris Flow changed ground conditions significantly,” said Eric Simmons, FEMA regional representative. “The recovery maps will reflect increased risks and inform the rebuilding process.”

FEMA uses a laser-light technology known as “LiDAR” to create highly accurate and detailed topographic maps that will reflect the post-debris flow conditions, Simmons said. The maps will show updated flood risks in the event of a 100-year flood, or 1 percent annual probability, Simmons said.

Simmons was among the local, state and federal officials who provided recovery updates and information at the community forum held last night at the Santa Barbara County administration building.

The recovery maps will not affect flood insurance considerations, Simmons said. He emphasized that the existing Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) will still be used for insurance purposes.

The FEMA recovery maps will provide a critical guide to development decisions in Montecito, County officials said.

“These new maps will be a key tool the community will use to rebuild homes,” said Matt Pontes, Santa Barbara County’s assistant executive officer. “Because the older FEMA maps no longer reflect current conditions, these updated maps will be our guiding documents moving forward.”

The maps do not directly determine where structures can and cannot be built, Pontes said.

“The maps will guide how future development will proceed, not if future development will proceed,” Pontes said. “The decision of whether or not to rebuild rests entirely with the private property owners of Montecito. The FEMA maps will help guide how that process takes shape.”

However, structures rebuilt within the flood plains may require more costly safety features, Pontes said.

“The key in rebuilding is resiliency,” said Pontes. “To build safely, in a way that protects against future incidents, some homes may have to be elevated, repositioned, or moved. The FEMA maps will help provide that guidance.”

The County will conduct future community meetings once the maps are publicly available, Pontes added.

FEMA Presentaion

Contact Office of Emergency Management

4408 Cathedral Oaks Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Phone: 805-681-5526