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Victims of Montecito Disaster to be Honored with Custom Memorial Benches

Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade behind initiative to create tributes out of fallen trees for families, friends and community to remember those who died on Jan. 9

Memorial bench for victim of debris flow Click to view larger
New bench memorials are being created and dedicated to the victims of Montecito’s deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows. (Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade photo via Facebook)

The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade is creating memorials in the form of custom benches to honor the victims of the catastrophic Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows in Montecito.

The disaster killed 23 people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes just weeks after the Thomas Fire burned most of the vegetation off the mountains above Montecito.

“We are making the benches out of local fallen trees, and they are milled locally,” said Abe Powell, founder of the Bucket Brigade. “Each bench is two pieces of wood and a plaque with text that memorializes the victims. It’s a unique bench.”

He said the first bench will be for Rebecca Riskin, a 61-year-old Village Properties real estate agent and longtime Montecito resident who was swept to her death from her home on Glen Oaks Drive.

The bench is expected to be complete in two to three weeks and will be placed at the Ennisbrook open space between San Ysidro Road and Sheffield Drive.

Other benches dedicated to those who died will be made at later dates.

“Our plan is to make 23 (benches), and to work down the list,” Powell told Noozhawk.

Powell said the benches are being placed throughout Montecito, and each family can pick the location and bench design. Other potential sites include Manning Park and the Casa Dorinda open space along Montecito Creek and Olive Mill Road.

Each bench site will be a significant place the victim enjoyed or often spent time.

“We are putting them in different places throughout the community, and the locations are decided by the family,” Powell said.

The benches will be placed in public settings. Powell said the goal is to create a space where friends, family and community members can commemorate the victims.

“Remembering is an important part of this process, and for the community to have a memory,” he said. “It reminds us of the need to be safe in the future.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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