Teen recaps helpful moments early on in the Montecito mudflow

Ready to aid neighbors in the crisis

Rescue efforts in the early morning hours on January 9, were caught on camera by a teen helping neighbors. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

MONTECITO, Calif. - A  teenage was up early and ready during the tragic Montecito mudflow last week, where he ended up helping his injured neighbors.

Kai Wilkinson is a 17-year old student at Santa Barbara High. He has released video of the early morning catastrophe starting with a fire ball in the sky. "That's flames," you can hear his dad Chris saying.  The fire presumably started when large boulders hit a gas line above his property.  Flames were estimated at over 400 feet high.

"I had just unpacked my bags from the Thomas fire and looking up in the hills I said  'no way,'" said Wilkinson

Immediately afterwards they realized the over flow of a creek was taking over homes at an immeasurable pace.

"So my dad and I, we checked the houses.   We had a neighbor with a broken leg.  A boulder came down and smashed him against a tree.  We called 911 and 911 said 'we can't get in,'"  he said. 

Right after that homes on Glen Oaks Road were in their vision shattered or destroyed.

One of Wilkinson's immediate neighbors was killed.  At least three people in his neighborhood and a nearby street were lost in the surprise flow of debris and rocks.

The 17-year old and his dad  are part of the Montecito Emergency Response and Recovery Action Group known as MERRAG. 

A truck full of emergency supplies, and radio equipment was stocked the night before the well anticipated rain event that came with several days of warnings.

When he thinks of his friend, Jack Canton, lost in the mudflow, Jack Canton says, "That could have easily been me."

Looking ahead to the future Wilkinson says he wants people to  "be prepared for the next one and educate everyone around  me so they are prepared."


For more information about MERRAG go to :

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