After weeks of devastation from natural disasters in Santa Barbara, residents of the community gathered on Sunday evening at the Santa Barbara Courthouse to grieve and pay tribute for the victims of last week’s mudslides in Montecito.
About 1000 community members reunited to mourn the loss of the lives of at least 20 people during the mudslides that took place early Tuesday morning in Montecito. The attendees had L.E.D lights and candles. The names and ages of the 20 victims were read out loud as many shed tears for the loss of their beloved ones.
Community gathers to support each other in difficult times
To pay tribute and grieve for the victims, local elected leaders and the community organized the event last night. They offered words of hope to the ones who assisted. As well, members of the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish churches went to support the community in these tough moments.
The organizers encouraged the attendees to write messages on the Healing Wall, which was covered at the end by words of hope thanks to the community including phrases such as “be strong” and “love is all we need.”
“It’s important that we take time to reflect on all that we have felt,” said Alana Walczak, who is the executive director of Child Abuse Listening Mediation. She also said that that trauma is a “long-term process” that must be addressed first to start healing.
The attendees cheered in support of the firefighters, first responders and rescue crews that worked under challenging scenarios to save the lives of the people during the Thomas Fire and mudslides.
“Those and everyone on our front lines are not walking wounded,” expressed District Attorney Joyce Dudley. “We are not walking wounded, [and] they are our heroes and they have broken hearts.”
Bethany Harris, a resident of Santa Barbara, took her two young sons to the vigil because she wanted them to understand the effects of natural disasters and storms on the community. She said all the people know somebody who has been affected by this kind of situation and said that people would heal together.
There was a moment of silence during which Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams read out the names of the 20 victims of the mudslides.
At least 20 people lost their lives due to the mudslides
Among the victims, there was an immigrant from Mexico and a pair of sisters. The victims of the disaster also included a 30-year-old man, his 6-year-old son, and father-in-law; a doctor and his daughter who died in the arms of her brother. Here is the list of the names of the victims and their ages:
Jonathan Benitez: 10 years old
Kailly Benitez: 3 years old
Joseph Francis Bleckel: 87 years old
Martin Cabrera-Munoz: 48 years old
David Cantin: 49 years old
Morgan Corey: 25 years old
Sawyer Corey: 12 years old
Peter Fleurat: 73 years old
Josephine Gower: 69 years old
John McManigal: 61 years old
Alice Mitchell: 78 years old
James Mitchell: 89 years old
Caroline Montgomery: 22 years old
Mark Montgomery: 54 years old
Marilyn Ramos: 27 years old
Rebecca Riskin: 61 years old
Roy Rohter: 84 years old
Pinit Sutthithepa: 30 years old
Peerawat Sutthithepa: 6 years old
Richard Loring Taylor: 79 years old