A symbol of healing was unveiled Thursday in Montecito.
A large group of first responders, politicians and community members gathered as a plaque was dedicated to the victims of the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslide.
Over 20 flowers, each representing a life lost, sit atop a new memorial on the corner of San Ysidro and East Valley Road.
“Even in the darkest hour there was tremendous light,” said Reverend Aimee Eyer-Delevett, of All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church.
The 20 by 31 inch bronze plaque may be relatively small in size, compared to the healing it represents.
“People coming together who haven’t necessarily seen each other since the events, people coming together to mourn with one another, to gather strength from one another,” said Eyer-Delevett.
Like many in the community, Reverend Aimee Eyer-Delevett of All Saints by the Sea Church vividly remembers the night that would forever change Montecito. “I’m seeing some faces here tonight that I haven’t seen since then, so bear with me,” she said, getting emotional.
The church was transformed into a triage center, people were even life-flighted to Cottage Hospital from the sanctuary.
“Out of the mud people walked and drove to find sanctuary. Literal physical sanctuary,” said Rev. Eyer-Delevett.
The plaque reads, “Dedicated to the victims of the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and the subsequent Montecito Debris Flows of January 9, 2018. We gratefully acknowledge the heroic actions of first responders and community volunteers.”
As the Reverend recognized faces in the crowd, mudslide survivor Marco Farell also saw several people he met out in the mud.
“You get a little bit sad and emotional but then you’re reminded that you have this entire community support behind you,” said Farrell, a mudslide survivor.
An oak leaf cluster symbolizes the strength and resilience of that community and honors first responders and community volunteers – a small part in the long journey of healing.
“These events really help rebuild our hearts as we rebuild our town,” said Farrell.
The project was funded by the Montecito Community Foundation and the Montecito Association.