Montecito disaster
The Jan. 9 Montecito flash flooding and debris flows left 23 people dead and hundreds of houses destroyed or damaged. The community’s recovery process will continue for years, but organizers hope an anniversary observance will help with the healing. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk file photo)

Montecito’s deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and debris flows left deep scars that will take years, if not decades, to heal. To mark the one-year anniversary of the destruction, a collaboration of community organizations is planning an observance to remember what — and who — was lost, and to celebrate how far the recovery has come.

Organized by the Debris Flow and Thomas Fire Anniversary Planning Committee, the ceremony will begin with a short program at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, 2019, at Lower Manning Park, 449 San Ysidro Road. From there, a candlelit remembrance walk will proceed down San Ysidro Road to All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, at 83 Eucalyptus Lane.

The one-mile walk is estimated to take between 15 to 25 minutes. Shuttles will be available to transport participants to and from Lower Manning Park and other designated sites in Montecito starting at 5:30 p.m.

Flameless candles will be handed out before the event and available at the park prior to the walk.

The remembrance gathering will conclude with a bell ceremony at All Saints Church. Soup will be served at the church afterward.

The event is expected to finish at around 8:30 p.m.

“The goal of the ‘Raising the Light’ event is to create a space for the community, which will allow recognition of the anniversary date of the Jan. 9 debris flows and allow an opportunity for emotional healing and recovery,” said Suzanne Grimmesey, chief of quality care and strategy at the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavior Wellness.

“It is an opportunity for people to give themselves credit for the challenges which they have faced — to recognize and appreciate the courage, stamina, endurance and resourcefulness that survivors, loved ones and the community showed during the recovery process.”

Grimmesey added that the ceremony is “a time for people to look around, pause and appreciate the many who have shown support during this difficult time, and look forward to a renewed sense of hope and purpose.”

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. The flash flooding and debris flows were attributed to the wildfire.

The Jan.9 Debris Flow and Thomas Fire Anniversary Planning Committee is a collaboration of All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, Cold Spring School, Community Long-Term Recovery Group, Community Shul of Montecito, Congregation B’nai B’rith, Cottage Health, Crane Country Day School, the 805 Conservation Fund, El Montecito Presbyterian Church, Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, the Institute of Collective Trauma and Growth, Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery, Laguna Blanca School, the Montecito Association, Montecito Community Foundation, Montecito Covenant Church, Montecito Fire Protection District, Montecito Union School District, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara County and First District Supervisor Das Williams’ office, and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.