MONTECITO, Calif. - A Montecito volunteer group that has helped the community for 30 years gathered and celebrated Friday.
Members came together at upper Manning Park to reflect on their efforts and plans ahead.
They are known as the Montecito Emergency Response and Recovery Action Group or MERRAG. They work closely with the Fire department, water and sanitary districts and Sheriff's deputies.
During major disasters such as fires, flooding, wind storms or widespread power outages, they mobilize.
MERRAG President Sue Ziliotto says all of the members have gone through training plans for life saving and public safety duties. They are equipped with portable radios and can communicate when phone lines are down.
The group also operates 1610 AM radio with information 24 hours a day.
MERRAG was part of a rapid response team during the 2008 Tea Fire which spread rapidly out of the hills above Westmont College into populated areas. Thousands evacuated in a moments notice. Many streets were jammed and MERRAG helped with traffic control and information.
During long duration events such as the 2007 Zaca fire in the back country MERRAG members worked at information maps set up in busy community spots.
Two members each month are named as the primary and secondary on call contacts in an emergency.
MERRAG says it needs both community donations and interested residents to join, each month.