Readers React: The search for bodies in the backyards of Montecito continues — nine months after the debris flow disaster

MONTECITO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28, 2018: Jennifer Stafford, Ana Fagan and Denise Walden, left to right, v
Volunteers with the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade look for for man-made items as they sort through a dirt pile in the yard of a home damaged in the January 2018 Montecito mudslide.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Thanks for the article about the continuing search in Montecito for two children believed to have been killed in the January 2018 debris flow disaster.

For anyone not directly involved, it’s probably hard to comprehend the scope of this event. The back side of my property, which goes directly into Montecito Creek, was one of the last to be thoroughly searched. Five of the other victims were found within the vicinity of my destroyed home, so it was logical to think they could be there as well.

An enormous pile of debris, consisting of at least 15 large oak trees, huge boulders and many tons of dried mud, was carefully taken apart and searched by Abe Powell and the Bucket Brigade volunteers, but to no avail.

Personally, I found it heartbreakingly surreal to think we were still looking for bodies nine months after the event. This is an ongoing tragedy that engenders deep sympathy for the victims and survivors of natural disasters around the world. Hopefully victims of such catastrophic occurrences will have angels of mercy like ours in Montecito.


Lynn Kirst, Montecito


To the editor: I was pleased to read about the heroic work of the Bucket Brigate in Montecito. Although the volunteers did not do their work for glory, we owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

I had thought their work was done since the mud has dried and the boulders are stacked where homes used to stand. Yet one morning this week, I drove up Olive Mill Road in Montecito and saw six red-shirted, bucket-carrying volunteers heading to work. It touched my heart as I drove through that destroyed neighborhood.


What amazing, dedicated citizens of our community they are.

Carol Terry, Carpinteria

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