Interface’s Response to Thomas Fire: Data & Stories

Interface’s experience with emergency communication in support of a series of disasters locally and nationally prepared our 211VC team to respond to the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslide. During the Montecito Mudslide, 211VC was the primary source for information relayed by local media outlets.

211VC responded to:

  • 1,800 Ventura County calls for help during the Thomas Fire.
  • 700 calls during the first two days of the mudslide.
  • 6,000 calls for help from Santa Barbara throughout the fire and mudslide.
  • 2:1 Spanish language calls for the fires and slides.
  • 10,000 texts in English and Spanish requesting information: 50% of texters during the disaster were over 50 years of age, a change from usual 13%.

Additionally, 211VC:

  • Offered mental health and wellness support resources to thousands in Ventura County and Montecito who texted for assistance before, during and after the fires and mudslides.
  • Developed a process to get seniors and disabled residents to safety during the disaster through a  partnership with Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC).


Interface received 7,800 calls for help during the Thomas Fire.

2-1-1 Ventura County, a program of Interface Children & Family Services, has been and will continue to help keep community members safe and informed during some of the worst disasters in California history. Read about call and text we received in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire:

  • One week after the loss of the historic Vista Del Mar Hospital, 2-1-1 received a call from a man in his 50’s who’d been a live-in patient prior to the fire. Since the mandatory evacuation, followed by complete destruction of the hospital, he had become homeless and was trying to deal with both the trauma of the fire and his own mental illness. 2-1-1 connected this resident to 3 available shelters as well as the county behavioral health hotline to help him not only find shelter but to also get the assistance he needed for mental health services.
  • Two weeks after the fire, a 2-1-1 contact specialist received a text from an active duty military member who stated that he and his family were struggling recovering from and dealing with the trauma they experienced from the fire. He confided in the specialist that he is currently suffering from PTSD and the stress from evacuating his home due to the fire inhibited his ability to find financial and emotional recovery support for him and his family. The 2-1-1 contact specialist explained what resources were available to him and made him an appointment at the county Thomas Fire Service Center where his family could apply for all the benefits available to them.
  • 2-1-1 Ventura County responded to a text from a concerned resident whose elderly parents reside in Montecito. They did not have phone service and were in need of evacuating due to water coming into their home from the creek next door.  A 2-1-1 contact specialist was able to provide the couple’s name and address to the OES for emergency rescue. We received confirmation that they are now safe and their daughter was very grateful for 2-1-1’s assistance.
  • A 2-1-1 contact specialist received a transportation request from a community clinic in the Ojai area for a physician who resides in the Santa Barbara area. The office manager at the community clinic said how critical it was for the physician to get to Ojai in light of the Thomas Fire and the fire’s affect on his patients. Because the doctor lives on the other side of the 101 fwy in Santa Barbara, it was taking him 4 hours one way to get to Ojai to see his patients. The 2-1-1 contact specialist collected the doctors information and connected him with voluntary pilots who were offering air transportation to and from the affected area.  They provided him round trip air transport to and from Santa Barbara Airport to Camarillo, where someone from the clinic was waiting to pick him. The doctor was thrilled with the service that the volunteer pilots offered and so thankful Interface was there to help him get to his patients.

Help make sure 2-1-1 will always be there during times of disaster and when needed most.

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