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Students can volunteer to help Montecito mudslide victims

The+101+in+Santa+Barbara+after+a+recent+rainstorm.+Photo+credit%3A+Stephanie+Lamore
The 101 in Santa Barbara after a recent rainstorm. Photo credit: Stephanie Lamore

The 101 in Santa Barbara after a recent rainstorm. Photo credit: Stephanie Lamore

The 101 in Santa Barbara after a recent rainstorm. Photo credit: Stephanie Lamore

Stephanie Lamore

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Mudslides over 60 miles away from Moorpark had their effect on the campus when they prevented employees from coming in to work earlier this month.

“The first day it rained, I was landlocked,” said Tom Arellano, Moorpark College’s equipment manager. “All the roads going out were flooded, from the north, south, and east. I was stuck for five hours. I stayed home that day.”

Early January rains led to flooding in areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that had been burned by the Thomas fire, just as the fire itself reached 100 percent containment. Montecito, famous for its celebrity residents such as Oprah, is the site of much of the devastation.

Arellano lives in Carpenteria and was one of the many affected by the extended 101 freeway closure in that area.

“We weren’t as bad as Montecito,” Arellano said. “They’re surrounded by four creeks and they all flooded when the rain came off the hill. Carpenteria has three creeks and two have concrete walls that handled the flooding.”

Further flooding is not an immediate concern, as the National Weather Service forecast largely clear conditions for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for the upcoming week.

“There could be a few sprinkles or very light showers as far south as Santa Barbara very early Thursday morning,” wrote the Los Angeles department of the National Weather Service on their website, “but there`s too much west/northwest flow with it to allow much of that precipitation to reach the ground.”

Though Moorpark itself is far from the scene of the mudslides, students can offer their help directly and indirectly to those in the affected areas who lost their homes or even their friends or family members. Much of the needed aid does, in fact, have to be offered from a distance.

“We couldn’t do much to help,” Arellano said of his Carpenteria community. “They wouldn’t let us go to Montecito to help out. There were a few collection sites, though, where we could donate things and give money.”

The Red Cross is one of the organizations that is offering aid, and its website states that 90 percent of its work is performed by volunteers. Heather Johnson, a volunteer at the Santa Barbara office, got her start by searching for opportunities on the Red Cross website.

“I started volunteering during the Thomas fire,” Johnson said. “It’s easy to do and we encourage it.”

Johnson urged interested students to search on www.redcross.com/volunteer to find ways to help in the Ventura/Santa Barbara areas. Positions are open on the ‘Front Desk Squad’ where, like Johnson, volunteers answer phones and greet visitors. Students can also apply for a more on-the-scene job on the ‘Disaster Workforce’. For these and many other jobs, no special qualifications are required and all training is provided.

“We have lots of opportunities on the website,” Johnson assured potential volunteers. “That’s how I ended up here at this desk answering phones today!”

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