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Residents emotionally recall the Montecito mudflow two years after the disaster

Damaged house 2018 Montecito mudflow
John Palminteri
Memories of the 2018 Montecito mudflow are being recalled on the two year anniversary. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Montecito mudflow aerial
U.S. Coast Guard
Memories of the 2018 Montecito mudflow are being recalled on the two year anniversary. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

MONTECITO, Calif. - Two years ago on January 9, 2018 a catastrophe took place in Montecito and Carpinteria that experts said was very possible with the weather conditions that month.  Mother Nature proved it with a violent direct hit about 3:30 a.m. from within an already strong storm cell that was tracked on weather radars.

"And it was completely devastating," said Glamour House owner Ann Picciuto outside of her business on East Valley Road.   The store has been open since 1965.

The torrential short duration rain in the Montecito Hills came  a month after the Thomas fire which burned much of the vegetation in the area.  The storm sent tons of boulders, debris, and mud flowing to the ocean.  Along the way it  broke down homes, roads and lives.

"The stories will stay with them forever.   We moved on but the scars are still here for sure," said Picciuto.

Those who live and work here have recovered on different levels.
Some are still getting over the mental and physical impacts, but there are flashbacks.

A former resident Margo Hogan has since moved but was back in the area recalling what she lived through.   "You drive and you still see it and it is something that is just one of those awful nasty things that happen in life and it is just not nice." 

Health impacts can be felt by Victoria Kennedy, who owns Sea Spa.   "Mentally you remember these things happening.  You hear the noises of the rocks coming down and you know you just don't want to ever want to go through something like that again. "    She was in the area of Hot Springs Road and Olive Mill which was hit so hard it was not recognizable to many residents.

These days, some  businesses that saw a serious slow down in customers are seeing a positive future.

"We really suffered because the bridge was out by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church and now that they have opened it  I have seen a resurgence of activity in the village," said Picciuto. 

There's also a never give up spirit in the community that takes pride in being resilient.

"I'm very blessed to know  I'm supposed to be here.  I am supposed to make people laugh and smile that's me," said Kennedy.

But it's still a conversation that brings back tears and an insightful reflection.

"It is Mother Nature at her absolutely worst.   Montecito is absolutely the most beautiful place with the most awful things happening here," said Hogan.

Article Topic Follows: Weather News

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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