Nearly eight months ago the Montecito mudslide destroyed half of the property at La Casa De Maria retreat and conference center. Over 50 million dollars worth of damage was caused at the facility, and now they are asking for the communities help to rebuild.
Karol Schulman is the President of the Immaculate Heart Community and says seeing the damage that was done at La Casa is overwhelming.
“It was heart-wrenching to see the damage,” said Schulman.
Half of the property at La Casa De Maria was damaged after the January 9th mudslides roared through.
“This is where the gas line explosion occurred and when that occurred the flow came over the edge of the bend of the creek,” said Anne Price, director at La Casa De Maria.
La Casa de Maria sits right along San Ysidro Creek. The mudslides ripped through the 26-acre property wiping out nine of the 16 buildings. A photo of the chapel went viral, becoming a symbol of the mudslide’s massive destruction. Mud filled up waist high, but the crucifix remained untouched. An iconic moment for the center that has been the home for spiritual renewal for decades.
“I have to tell you it was extremely moving to us to see the crucifix looking down on the mud untouched,” said Schulman.
The cross signified a glimmer of hope for many, but the natural disaster left nearly 50 million dollars worth of damage.
“Such a small percentage of this will be covered by our insurance so what we are doing as an organization we are dipping into our reserves of our non-profit organization by millions of dollars over the next couple of years and that is a real burden on us,” said Linda Alexander, the executive director at La Casa.
La Casa has spent the past eight months removing the mud from the property and fixing the buildings with only minor damage.
“We are at that point of re-visioning our future,” said Price. “We are working with a master planner and an architect. From that point of view, we are only in the very beginning.”
After years of providing spiritual guidance to many, La Casa is now asking for help to get the center back up and running.
“We need everyone’s help, whether its the labor, their organizations, or their pocket book. We are looking for everyone’s help because we are part of the community,” said Alexander.