The Montecito Fire Protection District announced Friday afternoon that the “Raising Our Light” remembrance ceremony for the anniversary of the Jan. 9, 2018 debris flow has been canceled due to weather.
“It is with a heavy heart and an abundance of caution that Monday evening’s ‘Raising Our Light’ commemorative ceremony to remember those lost in the Jan. 9 Debris Flow, is canceled,” Montecito Fire spokesperson Christina Favuzzi said in a news release.
“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.”
The Montecito Community Partnership Team said it will be looking to reschedule the event once conditions are clear and safe.
Montecito Fire included coping tips in its release, such as acknowledging feelings, staying connected with others and sharing feelings and experiences, keeping routines, reaching out for support, and more.
The Community Wellness Team, which was created following the Thomas Fire and debris flows to support residents with counseling and immediate crisis response, can be contacted at 805.364.2750.
“Some of the common feelings which may come up surround the five-year mark of the Jan. 9 Debris Flow, paired with current weather conditions, include stress, memories, sadness, tearfulness, frustration, anger, guilt, avoidance, difficulty sleeping, or irritability,” event organizers said.
“While we cannot be together for the ‘Raising Our Light’ event, we encourage everyone to acknowledge memories and emotions that may surface around the Jan. 9 disaster anniversary.”
The “Raising Our Light” program was planned for Monday night on the fifth anniversary of the debris flows that killed 23 people and damaged hundreds of homes in the community.
The anniversary event is a collaboration between the Montecito Fire Protection District, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, Montecito Association, Montecito Journal, Montecito Union School District, Cold Spring School District, and the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness.
Favuzzi said the fire district is working with Behavioral Wellness to provide support for community members and first responders during the anniversary. This week’s storm impacts, and the evacuation orders, may be bringing back memories of the debris flows, she said.
“We just want to encourage folks to take care of themselves, check on their loved ones, be with community,” Favuzzi told Noozhawk.