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“Raising Our Light” remembrance held on 6th anniversary of deadly Montecito Mudslide

"Raising Our Light" ceremony commemorates six anniversary of deadly Montecito Mudslide

MONTECITO, Calif.-Members of the Bucket Brigade, created in the aftermath of the Montecito Mudslide, set up a table full of treats and hot drinks on Tuesday outside of Montecito Union School off San Ysidro Road.

That is where community members came together for the "Raising Out Light "remembrance of the 23 lives lost.

The remains of one young child has yet to be found.

The 5th anniversary remembrance was cancelled due January storms on this day last year that caused the evacuation of the Montecito Inn and many homes.

But nothing compares to the damage done on January 9, 2018.

The slide, called a debris flow by insurance companies and firefighters, also caused a fires from a broken gas main in the hills of Montecito.

That wall of fire woke many people up in time to get out safely.

By morning it was clear people lost loved ones and property.

In addition to 23 deaths, more than 160 people were injured and more than 462 homes were damaged.

At least 65 of those homes were destroyed.

While some people have rebuilt or repaired their homes, some have sold their properties.

A property near the corner of Olive Mill and Hot Springs sold for about $2.3 million in 2022.

Since the disaster roads and bridges have been rebuilt, and have been repaved.

There's a new bridge and roundabout on Coast Village Road.

There are also improved storm drains.

Thanks to the Bucket Brigade there is a fundraising effort to build and complete new trails.

Survivors and locals can still remember "the before" while taking in "the after."

They remember a teen, who lost her brother and father in disaster, pulled from the mud.

They can remember part of a white house stuck in a tree.

All of those memories have bonded the community.

When Montecito's Fire Chief David Neels read the names of the 23 lives lost in the Montecito mudslide Carie Baker Corey heard the names of her daughters Sawyer and Morgan.

"It is so helpful to me, I am raised here in this community," said Corey," To have all of them supporting me as the years go on really, really helps, it makes me feel loved, it makes me feel that my children aren't forgotten since they have passed and it just warms my heart."

She said seeing the firefighters again was comforting.

Chief Neels was a battalion chief during the tragedy and remembers trying to find the yellow line on the road to get to survivors.

"How the community was around Sawyer and Morgan's mom; it speaks volumes to how this community continues to be strong with those folks that were affected," said Neels.

A storm led to the cancellation of last year's commemoration.

"It was a good turnout tonight really appreciate everyone showing up, " said community member Sara Wilcox.

 Sean Bolis skateboarded to the ceremony. He felt lucky that he evacuated that night.

"The destruction of it was horrific and to understand six years has gone by it is so insane," said Bolis.

The ceremony ended with the light of a searchlight that first responders said would stay on all night near Montecito Union Elementary School.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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