The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office’s brand new vehicles, two Lenco Bearcats, have made dozens of rescues since mudslides caused widespread damage in the Montecito area on Tuesday.
The Sheriff’s Office received the Bearcats back in November and the timing couldn’t have worked out better.
On Friday morning, a father and son were rescued from their condo in the Bonnymede Community near the beach.
“My father’s first comment to me was, both the garages are flooded,” said David Brown.
“I’ve lived here 21 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said David’s father, Milton.
One of their cars is ruined but luckily there was no damage to their condo on the second level. Power has been going on and off since the mudslide.
On Thursday, they were placed under a mandatory evacuation order.
“This is like a third world country where you would see this happen but never here,” Milton said.
Friday morning, they knew it was time to leave and the timing was perfect. The Sheriff’s Bearcat just happened to be in their neighborhood.
“It’s a godsend they have these two vehicles. All of our low-level cars would not have been able to get through the mud,” David said.
The Bearcat, which can drive through several feet of mud, pulled up to their home and loaded them in.
The Browns say they would have been stuck at home if it wasn’t for this vehicle.
“There was no way which to go even if you tried to with feet and so forth without going two feet into slush,” Milton added.
David, originally from New York, has gone through disasters before, including Hurricane Sandy, but he says nothing compares to this.
“But I know we’re a very strong community and we’ll get through this even stronger,” David concluded.
The Browns were taken to the Coast Village parking lot. They say they are going to stay in a hotel for the next few weeks.
The Bearcat has made dozens of rescues of people and animals since the mudslide happened.
They were also used during the Thomas Fire but this is the first time they are being used for evacuation and rescue.
By Alexa Bertola