MONTECITO, Calif. - Students, faculty and staff returned to the Montecito Union School campus Friday morning for the first time since evacuating after the deadly mudslides.
It was an exciting and emotional homecoming at the historic campus that was spared major damage from the storm more than two weeks ago.
Faculty and staff were busy in the morning putting the finishing touches on classrooms and the campus to welcome the students back from what was an "alternate campus adventure" during the evacuation period that included temporary classrooms at Santa Barbara City College.
"We're really excited to be back at our home base and we're thankful to Santa Barbara City College for hosting us, we made it a school, we made it a classroom", said MUS Principal Nick Bruski, "we know the trip back to school is going to have a lot emotion for a lot of families, we want to be sensitive to that but we want to get the kids back to a sense of normalcy."
Gas and power lines to the school have been restored and clean drinking water is being provided by the Montecito Water District.
Phone lines and some heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) are slowly coming back on line and several hand washing stations have been set up on campus as student health and safety remains a top priority.
Special accommodations are being made for MUS students and their families who remain displaced by the disaster and the daily snack and lunch will be available on campus.
The return to campus signifies the start of Montecito's long road of recovery, rebuilding and renewal.
"We are just really grateful to be back home", Bruski said, "we know its a long journey ahead but we're really excited to be here today."