Monday, October 15 , 2018, 2:59 pm | Fair 73º

 
 
 
 

In Wake of Deadly Flooding, Montecito Inn Shines a Spotlight on Community

Hotel sets up rooftop spotlight to commemorate 23 victims killed or missing in Jan. 9 disaster, and to act as beacon of hope as recovery continues

A spotlight pierces the night sky Saturday from the roof of the Montecito Inn, at 1295 Coast Village Road. The spotlight commemorates the 23 people killed or missing in the deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and mud flows. Click to view larger
A spotlight pierces the night sky Saturday from the roof of the Montecito Inn, at 1295 Coast Village Road. The spotlight commemorates the 23 people killed or missing in the deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and mud flows. (Jason Copus photo)

The Montecito Inn may not be near a creek but it found itself on the bank of a raging river running past it in the early morning hours of Jan. 9. Guests and staff of the historic hotel were evacuated as debris flowed around it.

Now, the still-closed hotel is shining a spotlight — literally — to honor the victims of the deadly flash flooding and mud flows, and to show its support for the Montecito community that lost so much that fateful day.

“For 23 hours over the next seven days, this light will shine brightly to memorialize the 23 people who have either lost their lives or are still missing, and for our entire community affected by the Montecito mudslides,” the hotel said in a statement to Noozhawk.

“Our desire is that it will act as a beacon of light to bring hope to our community in a time of darkness. We will heal together.”

Jason Copus, the family-owned hotel’s sales and marketing director, said the spotlight will be directed skyward between 6:30 and about 10:30 p.m. for the next week.

The hotel at 1295 Coast Village Road obtained a special-event permit for the display.

The flood and mud that hit the hotel with a glancing blow were part of a massive deluge that hammered the Montecito community. Twenty-one people were killed in the carnage, with two victims still missing. More than 100 houses were destroyed and hundreds more were badly damaged.

The Montecito Inn suffered no structural damage in the onslaught but was uncomfortably close to the extensive destruction around it when Montecito Creek erupted from its banks about a half-mile up Olive Mill Road and then ran right down the street.

A wall of water picked up everything in its path, including boulders, houses, cars, trees and other debris. Part of the flow spread out at the intersection of Coast Village Road, still more poured onto Highway 101 behind the hotel, but much of the debris continued all the way to Butterfly Beach.

One of the area’s most devastated neighborhoods was Montecito Oaks, a block east of Olive Mill Road and north of North Jameson Lane, roughly catty-cornered to the hotel.

“Thankfully, most of our damage was exterior and cosmetic,” said Jim Copus, the Montecito Inn’s operations manager.

Restoration work is ongoing at the 60-room boutique hotel, which is on track for a Feb. 16 reopening.

“As it turns out, Feb. 16 is also our 90th anniversary, so it would be very special to reopen on that date,” Jim Copus said.

Authorities allowed Coast Village Road to reopen two weeks ago, and many of the neighborhood’s restaurants were able to resume operations this weekend.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >