What's Right

Volunteers fan out to help mudflow victims in Montecito

More are needed for big weekend effort ahead

Volunteers help mudflow residents dig, sort and clean in the Montecito disaster zone. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

MONTECITO, Calif. - A special bucket brigade group of volunteers have come together to help others dig out of the Montecito mudflow disaster that upended the community January 9, killing at least 21 people.

The group breaks up into teams based on needs for the area. They learn about those in part from residents just simply showing up and asking for a favor.

One was Susan Moe who had two stuck cars, and no path to her door until mud was removed. She called the effort to help her "amazing." 

It's a small army led by Abe Powell who has been a community leader for years and sits on the Montecito Fire Protection District board.

'We got hit with a biblical level fire and flood and we are coordinating a biblical level response from the community and for the community to deal with this crisis," said Powell.

The group is meeting on street corner near Olive Mill Road and Santo Tomas Lane.

The family lost all of their tools and the volunteers had not only shovels and picks, but also chainsaws.

The organizers say they are going to be out on an open-ended schedule, and many volunteers leaders are stepping up to help with shifts, equipment and personnel.

This Saturday and Sunday up to the Super Bowl kickoff they will be out starting at daybreak.

"The whole thing is just extremely overwhelming and nobody is really an expert at that we all have regular lives. They have taken just a huge load off of our shoulders it's amazing, " said Moe.

Throughout the area, there's a buzz of activity with work crews, heavy equipment and back-breaking work underway at virtually every address mashed with mud from the damaging event earlier this month.

"Our priority is to get in as quickly as possible so we can get the mud outside of those homes so they don't rot from within," said Powell.

Moe said, "The whole place is swarming with volunteers."

More will be needed this weekend, and Powell is hoping for hundreds who may have a few hours to work on some projects. 

That's when the assignments will be coordinated at Manning Park.

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