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Four years later, community remembers lives lost during deadly Montecito debris flow

Posted at 9:17 AM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 12:24:31-05

Sunday marked four years since the debris flow that devasted the city of Montecito.

The Jan. 9, 2018 mudslide was a result of the Thomas Fire that had been burning for months in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

During a remembrance ceremony Sunday, a moment of silence took place, each candle lit and bell rung representing the 23 lives lost.

The debris flow tore through the small town destroying more than 100 homes and leaving behind damage that can still be seen today.

"Personally, we lost friends, so for us, each year we remember our friends we lost. We remember neighbors, we remember their families, those that survived,” said John Abraham Powell, CEO of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade.

For the Montecito community, every year since 2018 brings an opportunity to come together - even if it's virtually due to a pandemic.

"We've had an anniversary event every year starting with 2019 to help remember the victims and also the families of the victims and the survivors as well. It's to let them know the community still remembers and supports them,” Powell said.

"We all knew each other, that's the difficult part, so it's important to remember,” said Mindy Denson, president of the Montecito Community Foundation.

With different monuments set around the city to commemorate the natural disaster, Denson adds, "We wanted to put the plaque here so everyone would have an opportunity to reflect and remember."

"It's a community that was wounded and healing. A community that's seen people suffer a horrible loss and pull together a lot of compassion and love and willingness to help each other,” Powell said.