Montecito Flood Q&A

How is Westmont?

Westmont is fine. The rain has ended this week and we are expecting beautiful weather through next week. We sustained practically no damage from the rain with no flooding or mudslides on campus. But we have no water, which affects food preparation and sanitation, so we have canceled classes through Friday and evacuated students. Staff members are working on campus thanks to some portable restrooms and bottled water. We voluntarily evacuated students upon learning of water restrictions that would affect food preparation and sanitation, and now look forward to welcoming them back when classes resume soon.

How is Montecito?

Montecito has suffered devastating impacts, including the loss of life and many homes from the flooding and mudslides. Much of the community lacks water, power and natural gas, and roads are impassable. Please pray for the people of Montecito as they recover from this disaster.

Where are your students?

Our students all left campus safely and found places to stay with family or friends. Keeping our students safe continues to be our top priority. Scores of faculty, staff, alumni and local church members offered to house students who needed a place to stay. We’re so grateful for this response.

What are students doing this week as classes are canceled?

Our amazing faculty are once again adjusting to a disruption in classes, and they are connecting with students this week about courses. We appreciate their adaptability and positive attitude so much. We encourage students, especially graduating seniors, to use this time productively, such as working on their resumes. Our Career Development and Calling office would love to assist them when students return next week.

How will you make up the missed classes?

The Provost’s Office has sent a message to students explaining how we will make up the missed classes for the spring semester. The college does not plan to extend the spring semester, alter holidays or spring break, or change the date of Commencement, which remains May 5.

What if a student needs something left behind on campus?

Students may use the On-Call RD system and call 805-565-OCRD (6273) if they need to get something in their room.

When will water be restored to campus?

We will post updates on the website with information we receive from the Montecito Water District. We will also work to provide the facilities and resources (such as portable showers and restrooms) we need on campus for our students, faculty and staff.

How will Westmont support students when they return to campus?

Given the events our community has experienced, Student Life staff members and counselors will work to support students as they deal with the impact. College faculty and staff are planning new levels of support and allocating resources to meet this need across all departments on campus. The  college has also allocated additional budget and clinical hours at the Counseling Center for the spring semester to best support students with critical clinical issues.
How can I get updated information about Westmont?

Check the Westmont website daily for the updates we post several times a day. You can also follow us on Facebook (Westmont College) and Twitter (@westmontnews). The switchboard is open every day through Friday, so you may call with questions. You may also email questions to updates@westmont.edu

Was Westmont ever under a voluntary evacuation order?  Why weren’t the students evacuated before the storm?

Westmont was never under any evacuation order, voluntary or otherwise. We did not evacuate because we didn’t face a significant threat given our topography and the limited burning above campus. We sustained no damage to campus from floods or mudslides during the rain; the only impacts were several brief power outages. We voluntarily evacuated students when we learned that water service campus would be interrupted, severely affecting food preparation and sanitation.

We are a bit concerned at the volume and level of emergency situations our student has experienced. Is this volume of emergency situations the exception or the norm?

It’s an exception. Westmont has faced only a handful of such situations in its 80-year history.

Will Westmont reevaluate its response to natural disasters, considering what happened to the students with both the fires and the rainstorm?

While we believe our plans worked remarkably well for our students, faculty and staff we will, as always, perform a careful After Action Review and look for ways to enhance our plans.

Will the roads to Montecito be accessible in time for class to resume again next Tuesday?

Roads to Westmont from the west are accessible now, and we expect some roads to the east and south to open by Monday. We will post directions about getting to campus on our website before students return. Two companies, Island Packers and the Condor Express, offer daily shuttles between the Ventura Harbor and the Santa Barbara Harbor during the Highway 101 closure.

My student drank some water on campus yesterday before the boil-water message. Was the water considered safe for consumption?

A Montecito Water District representative said there was no reason to think it was unsafe. The boil-water order is precautionary, and they have no evidence there are actually harmful organisms or materials in the water. They suggest monitoring your digestive health for a day or two. If no symptoms appear, there is no reason to fear latent harm or seek medical attention.

We will have another phone call forum on Sunday at 3 p.m. so please go to Westmont’s website for details. Email your questions to www.updates@westmont.edu

 

Comments

  1. Tom and A.J. Demlow says:

    We are very grateful to God for preserving the Westmont campus, and to the exemplary way that the school administration has responded to this series of crises and communicated about them.

  2. Jacqueline Saylor says:

    Thank you for all the updates. I am the grandmother of two Westmont students, and your posts have been greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking such good care of our kids!

  3. Nancy Jude says:

    Were any faculty or staff member’s homes effected? Some of us were wondering if Cliff and Diane Lundberg’s home was damaged.

    • It is not yet clear if Westmont faculty and staff homes in Montecito were destroyed in the mudslide. The Lundberg home was spared.

  4. Amy Guthrie says:

    I want to thank the Westmont community for the amazing job that you have all done during the past month. As a freshmen parent, your communication has been excellent and I have never felt that my child was unsafe. I can not imagine the time and energy that you all have put into the logistics of these unforeseen and catastrophic events within the community. It will be a freshman year that will never be forgotten! I look forward to seeing how the students can be a part of the rebuilding of their community that has been greatly affected by uncontrollable events, and how God is glorified through this service.

    Again, Thank You! I am sure that there have been many sleepless nights.

    Many Thanks,
    Amy Guthrie

  5. Wayne Cassriel says:

    To all Staff and Faculty: THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS AND COMMUNICATION!
    WE PRAY FOR COMFORT IN THIS TIME OF SADNESS.
    Blessings, Wayne C.

  6. russ mccahan says:

    We are blessed to have a staff at Westmont , who take the safety of students very seriously.
    My daughter was a student during the Tea fire and as a, Real Estate Developer, I was impressed by the fire proofing of the campus and the evacuation planning as many prospective students were visiting the campus for preview.

  7. My former next door neighbor will be attending Westmont next fall we and their family visited the campus together last summer and when I saw the devastation in the area on the news my jaw dropped. I live near Temecula…and even we lost power for an entire night. We survived in the dark and are blessed to have our power back. We pray for everyone up in Montecito and the Westmont family to recover from this terrible natural disaster. Lets be positive and work together to recovery and bring back the beauty that is Santa Barbara.

  8. Shannon T Baer says:

    Thank you for the update. Although my daughter is abroad in Cairo this semester my heart breaks for the little community of Montecito. Praying for healing and restoration of bodies, minds and souls.

  9. Our two girls attended Westmont and we had the privilege of visiting the campus and the community of Montecito many times over those eight years. It felt like our home away from home. It has been devasting to watch these disasters pummel this enchanting town. My husband is honored to have spent weeks fighting the Thomas Fire and has been called back to remove hazard trees in an effort to safely get families back into their homes. If we could have transported students to Three Rivers to ride out this storm, we would have in a second. We can never give back enough to thank the staff, faculty, and Westmont community for their ongoing commitment to their students. Much love and continued prayers from the Castro family

  10. John & Gail Palmer says:

    Our son was a Westmont student in the early 90’s. Although there were no major natural disasters while he was there, we would not have feared for his safety, had there been any. Nor did we have any concerns while he was on Europe semester with Westmont . We know that God is in control & Westmont faculty & staff are seeking His guidance & will in all situations. This has been further demonstrated by the exemplary way the college has handled all aspects of the Tea & Thomas fires & the recent Montecito mudslides. Thanks to all involved for caring for Westmont student, faculty & staff physically, emotionally & spiritually. We & our son are so blessed to be part of the Westmont family & we will continue to pray for the logistics of returning Westmont back to normal, & for the entire Montecito community.

  11. STEPHEN L THOMAS says:

    I am very grateful for the faculty that opened up their homes to Westmont students during the campus evacuation. Their willingness to do so speaks volumes about the dedication of Westmont faculty to the well being of their students. I know that there have been questions regarding reimbursement of meal expenses for the past week during which students have been off campus. I would like to suggest that we use at least a portion of these funds to reimburse the faculty who were so gracious to host our students.