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Neighbor and family of Montecito mudslide victims speak out

Neighbor and family of Montecito...

MONTECITO, Calif. - One woman is still standing after her entire neighborhood was leveled.

Fighting back tears, Mary Beth Myers is remembering the people that were a part of her daily life, the families she can no longer say "good morning" to.

She says of the 24 people who lived along her shared driveway on East Valley Road, 11 people died in the mudslides.

"So grateful to still be alive and I don't really know why," said Myers.

By Myers' account, 11 of the 20 mudslides victims all lived along her shared driveway on East Valley Road.  She said where her cottage once stood, "looks like the Missouri River on a low day."

"In the morning he would sweep the driveway in his long nightshirt and his long white beard like a character out of Shakespeare," said Myers. The grief weighs heavy in the air, remembering Richard "Loring" Taylor.

Pinit "Oom" Sutthithepa and Peerawat "Pasta" Sutthithepa, Taylor's step-son and grandson also perished in the Montecito Mudslides, along with three members of the Benitez Family and Morgan and Sawyer Corey.  All children and families that Myers considered a part of her community.

"I know he loved his grandchildren very much, the last time I talked to him was Saturday," said Myers.

Myers remembers seeing Pasta and Lydia playing in the now demolished driveway, Myers says Taylor was mayor of that driveway.  A steadfast he was patriarch of for 50 years.

"This was a family who just went to bed and the next thing you know 25 feet of mud came through their house and took them out," said Andrew Taylor, Robert Taylor's nephew in Virginia.

Taylor's Nephew says his uncle was a generous, gifted storyteller and Pinit, the epitome of a hardworking man.

"He moved his wife and kids over just a year-and-a-half ago, they were living the American dream," said Taylor. That means Pasta, one of the youngest confirmed victims just moved to America.

The tragedy has those close to the victims urging everyone to be kind and really get to know your neighbors. Myers says her modest corner of Montecito was not the fancy neighborhood of big hedges and fancy gates you envision when you think of Montecito.

"This is a good time to open the gates and trim the hedges and put those walls down and just connect across all boundaries," said Myers.

The search for two-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa continues.


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