They will host a Zoom event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor explained to KSBY, “We had a catastrophic debris flow in the community immediately following the Thomas Fire, and unfortunately, 23 of our community members were lost during that event. We plan on coming together this January ninth for the fourth time to honor those 23 that were lost twice.”
People can access emotional and wellness support from the Community Wellness Team, they have a 24/7 hotline (888)-868-1649. However, if it is an immediate emergency, call 9-1-1.
They can connect to the team whether they have insurance or not.
Suzanne Grimmesey, the Chief of Strategy and Community Engagement for the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, said “After the Thomas Fire and then more acutely after the debris flow, we had a tremendous community impact not only for the families of the victims that were lost but for so many others who had lost their homes, had homes, damaged kids that were connected to this through their schools.”
Chief Taylor will give an invocation, and then firefighters will light twenty-three candles to honor those lost.
They will observe a moment of silence, the bells at local churches and schools will ring twenty-three times, and organizers will shine a klieg light.
Chief Taylor reflected on the importance of the event to the community, and especially the survivors.
“We're still here, that we remember them, that we care about them, that we're all connected, and that we all share the hope that we can get through this together, continue to get through this together that we still stand together in spirit," said Taylor.
The Community Wellness Team counted over 10,000 mental health contacts in the first ten months after the mudslide. Now the team continues to respond to community disasters and trauma events.