MONTECITO, Calif. - Thursday, January 9 marks two years since the deadly Montecito Mudslide, and members of the community attended a special remembrance event to honor those who died and reflect on how far the community has come since the tragedy.
The Montecito Community Partnership Team, which is made up of more than two dozen local groups including law enforcement and fire agencies, schools, and religious organizations, is hosting the event.
"Raising Our Light: A Night of Remembrance, Community, and Hope" began at 6:30 p.m. in the Westmont College gymnasium.
Last year's remembrance event was held outside and included a procession through Montecito.
This year's event was held indoors. It included a short, 30-minute program with a candle lighting, readings, and musical performances. Lauren Cantin, whose rescue from the mudslide was seen around the world, sang "You'll never Walk Alone" with a group of children.
A reception was held afterward at 7 p.m. where people enjoyed a cup of soup and gathered together.
To view the full program, click here.
Organizers say last year's event was about seeing the damage and remembering the night of the mudslide, while this year's focus was on the connections and relationships people made in the wake of the natural disaster. Organizers wanted to focus on the strength of the community.
"The intent is to remember what we have lost, but to also continue growing the sense of connectedness that came out of navigating the disaster and recovery," said Sharon Byrne, Executive Director of the Montecito Association. "We want to keep building that sense of community in Montecito."
The mudslide was triggered after heavy rain hit the Thomas Fire burn scar, just weeks after the fire broke out.
23 people were killed in the mudslide on January 9, 2018. Two children who were killed were never found.
One of those victims was 17-year-old Jack Cantin. In August, his mother found a Superman costume that belonged to him as a small child and said it gave her hope that he may one day be recovered.
Rebuilding is taking time, but a lot of progress has been made. In November, the last of six bridges that was damaged in the mudslide reopened.
In December, the county unveiled updated debris flow risk maps, showing a major decrease in the number of properties that could be in significant danger during future storms. The county said it was mainly because brush and other vegetation had grown back in the burn scar.