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'Raising Our Light" community remembrance event canceled

Raising Our Light.jfif
Posted at 6:15 PM, Jan 06, 2023

The Raising Our Light event that was scheduled to take place on Monday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. at Montecito Union School is now canceled.

This event serves to remember those lost in the 1/9 Debris Flow five years ago.

This decision was made as a result of the weather as the National Weather Service is forecasting another strong storm system with heavy rain Monday through Tuesday afternoon.

"While public safety officials closely monitor the forecast and determine the appropriate actions for community members to take, we have decided to cancel our in-person gathering so that everyone can focus on their safety," said Christina Favuzzi, the Public Information Officer for the Montecito Fire Dept.

Favuzzi goes on to say that this anniversary of the disaster already comes with anxiety, fear, and sadness which could affect people during the current storms.

Tips for coping include:

  • Acknowledge feelings you may be having
  • Stay connected with others and share feelings and experiences
  • Accept kindness and support from others
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Engage in healthy activities
  • Keep routines
  • Draw upon faith/spirituality
  • Help others
  • Reach out for support when needed

For linkage to mental health services or for urgent or crisis needs, please call the Behavioral Wellness 24/7 Access line at 1-888-868-1649.

The original event occurred on Jan. 9, 2018, during a heavy storm. This storm cut off power and released more than a half-inch of rain falling in about 15 minutes which led to a large amount of mud and debris from the mountainside above Montecito being brought into the community.

Aerial photo courtesy Matt Udkow, taken aboard the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit’s Fire Copter 308

There was nothing to hold back the huge boulders, burned trees, dirt, and water.

This event, now called The 1/9 Debris Flow, destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes, and Highway 101 was closed for nearly two weeks.

The aftermath of this storm led to 23 people being killed. The body of a young child has never been found.

"While we cannot be together for the Raising Our Light event, we encourage everyone to acknowledge memories and emotions that may surface around the 1/9 disaster anniversary," said Favuzzi .

The Community Wellness Team, formed in response to the 1/9 Debris Flow, remains available to offer support and can be reached by calling 805-364-2750.

The Montecito Community Partnership Team is looking for an opportunity to reschedule Raising Our Light when the skies clear and conditions are safe.