Montecito Mudslide

Montecito Mudslides: One Year into the Recovery

Direct Relief’s local recovery efforts have exceeded $5.5 million in assistance during the past year and remain ongoing.

Crews work to clean up mud and debris that washed through Montecito on Jan. 9, 2018. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)
Crews work to clean up mud and debris that washed through Montecito on Jan. 9, 2018. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

A year ago, a brief, intense rainfall on the freshly scorched mountains above Montecito triggered a torrent of mud, debris and car-sized boulders that rushed downhill with tragic consequence.

Twenty-three people died and dozens more sustained injuries in what became the deadliest disaster ever to strike the Santa Barbara area.

Direct Relief responded immediately, mobilizing its largest-ever response in Santa Barbara, its hometown of 70 years.

First responders dig through debris in Montecito on Jan. 11, 2018, after the devastating mudslides ripped through fire-impacted communities. The public was advised to be alert to certain health conditions associated with natural disasters, disaster cleanup, and repopulation of impacted areas. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)
First responders dig through debris in Montecito on Jan. 11, 2018, after the devastating mudslides ripped through fire-impacted communities. The public was advised to be alert to certain health conditions associated with natural disasters, disaster cleanup, and re-population of impacted areas. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

The day-one provision of essentials to evacuees was followed in rapid succession by a broad range of needed interventions, including:

  • immediately procuring vehicles and gear for search-and-rescue personnel and agencies,
  • providing tetanus inoculations for safety personnel and residents,
  • the mass distribution of personal protective equipment for workers and homeowners returning to do clean-up,
  • establishing a Victims’ Fund that has provided $1.1 million in direct financial assistance to survivors of those who lost loved ones, were injured, or otherwise affected, and
  • disbursing nearly $500,000 in emergency grants to local community organizations, both existing and start-up, providing critical services to residents.

Direct Relief tapped its existing resources to launch its response, which was then fueled by an outpouring of support from residents, businesses, foundations and others from around the world.

A total of 3,584 individuals from more than ten countries donated $2,853,912 to Direct Relief for recovery efforts in Montecito.

On Friday, January 26 Direct Relief delivered a Ford Raptor to Santa Barbara County Fire to aid mudslide recovery efforts in Montecito. In addition to the four-wheel drive truck, six utility vehicles have been donated to help continue search and rescue operations in extreme terrain. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)
On Friday, January 26 Direct Relief delivered a Ford Raptor to Santa Barbara County Fire to aid mudslide recovery efforts in Montecito. In addition to the four-wheel drive truck, Direct Relief purchased six utility vehicles to help continue search and rescue operations in extreme terrain. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief’s local recovery efforts have exceeded $5.5 million in assistance during the past year and remain ongoing.

A total of $3.6 million in cash has been expended, $1.16 million directly to victims through the 1/9 Victims Fund and the remainder provided either in emergency financial support to community organizations or to purchase essential equipment for first-response agencies, including:

  • $550,000 to support Montecito Fire, Santa Barbara County Fire, Santa Barbara City Fire, and Santa Barbara Search and Rescue, with the purchases of vehicles and gear to help response and recovery efforts.
  • $100,000 to the Santa Barbara Support Network, a grassroots, volunteer-run effort that supported more than 70 families, most of whom lost homes or loved ones.
  • $100,000 to the Foundation for Santa Barbara High School, which worked to distribute cash grants the families of more than 80 students whose families encountered extreme economic hardship due to the Thomas Fire or debris flow.
  • $100,000 to the 805 UndocuFund, which assisted residents excluded from federally-funded assistance programs because of immigration status.
  • $85,000 to the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, a community-led of more than 2,500 volunteers who donated and tens of thousands of labor-hours to remove mud and debris from homeowners’ properties and help recover family possessions.
  • $55,000 to Great Goods Ojai, which used the funding to support 45 individuals and families in Ojai who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire.
  • $35,000 to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, which collected and tested samples of mud on Santa Barbara County beaches to protect the public from health risks due to contamination.
  • $5,000 to AHA!, which provided mental health services to community members.
  • $2,635 to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, which administered Direct Relief-donated vaccinations to protect first responders, cleanup workers and residents in Montecito.

Santa Barbara County Public Health's Ashlea Coski demonstrates protective gear provided for the public. Direct Relief distributed protective coveralls, googles, gloves and masks to those returning to homes after the Jan. 9 deadly mudslide. Sheriff's deputies were escorting some residents back to their homes for a limited amount of time to collect items and begin clean-up. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief’s cash infusions were complemented by $1.9 million in materials to aid the local response further. This figure includes the mass-distribution of 400,000 particulate masks to the public during the Thomas Fire, the provision of vaccines and medical resources needed to stock evacuation shelters.

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