After the devastating floods in Montecito, where I was raised, with so much death and wide-spread destruction, I found it difficult to write anything about restaurants. It felt almost disrespectful to “move on” right after an unexpected tragedy that is off the scale of imagination. But we will continue, and never forget. My parents were stranded in their home near Olive Mill Road then forced to evacuate (for weeks, perhaps months) but we feel incredibly lucky. Through random chance, Montecito Creek overflowed a little more that way than this way and it is the only reason they are alive. It is the only reason they still have a home. That is windfall of good fortune considering so many others lost everything.
The morning of the floods, unlabeled photos of the damage were posted online. Being familiar with the area and recognizing the hardly recognizable, I created a series of before & after photos. This is just a small peek at the immense destruction in Montecito. They cannot even begin to convey the agony of those involved.
The horrific floods and Thomas Fire are taking a heavy toll on local businesses with many reporting the loss of critical revenue in December, one of the biggest shopping months of the year, with the losses continuing in January. Restaurants and supporting businesses have been hit particularly hard. Most, if not all, Montecito restaurants are closed. The City of Santa Barbara is working with business organizations to support recovery efforts for merchants impacted by the fire and flood.
With a federal disaster declaration approved, the City is working with the County Office of Emergency Management, and state and federal legislative officials to identify whether businesses are eligible for assistance. This is particularly challenging for our area because while businesses were significantly impacted through a lack of pedestrian traffic, they were not physically destroyed which is a key marker for disaster relief.
Tourism has also been deeply impacted with freeway closures and fewer overnight visits, after dramatic videos and photos of flood damage and flames reached a worldwide audience. How can you help? Simply dine at local restaurants and shop at local businesses. Many stores have re-opened with special offers and promotions. Support the community’s economic vitality by taking your loved ones out for a meal. Your dollars will keep South Coast merchants in business so the community can continue to thrive.