It was a dark, cold night in February in Santa Barbara County – in the low 30s – and freezing outside, as far as Mary Carmona was concerned.
As she worked alongside a contractor during a 12-hour night shift at the Cold Springs Creek Basin in Montecito, she pondered why she was there. She missed her family and just wanted to go home and sleep in the comfort of her own bed.
But going home wasn’t an option for Carmona – at least not for the next 20-some days, as she and about 60 other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees set up temporary residence in the county to help clear vehicle-sized boulders, several feet of mud, trees and other debris from the community’s basins.
It was a daunting task in less-than-ideal conditions, but these weren’t even less than ideal; they were catastrophic.