Why We Still Dig

Finding the Lost Children of Montecito

Bucket Brigade founder Abe Powell, seen here operating a mini-excavator, writes that funds are needed to complete the cleanup and the search for two missing children in Montecito.

Paul Wellman (file)

Bucket Brigade founder Abe Powell, seen here operating a mini-excavator, writes that funds are needed to complete the cleanup and the search for two missing children in Montecito.

Looking for lost children is not something we talk about a lot at the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, but it is something we have been quietly, persistently doing for the last eight months. Since the Debris Flow of January 9, 2018, 21 victims have been found, but two have not. Lydia Sutthithepa and John “Jack” Cantin are still missing.

Search and Rescue has searched valiantly, time and time again, to no avail. At this stage in Montecito, bridges are being rebuilt. Most of the mud has been cleaned up from homes and properties throughout the community. But not all of it.

And there lies the issue. Until we have cleaned up the entire Montecito Creek corridor that took so many of our friends and neighbors from us on January 9, there is still a chance that we could find those kids. We are close, but we are not done, and we have not given up on finding the lost children of Montecito.

We are committed to clearing all of the debris between Old Spanish Town and the ocean until Jack and Lydia are found, or until the last pile of mud has been checked and cleared. We need to know that we have done all we could to find our people and to help these families and this community recover. No one wants to drive around and see piles of dirt and debris and wonder if someone’s child is buried underneath it. We all need closure, and we are so close to finding it.

The search for Lydia and Jack is at the heart of our search for closure as a community. To finish this search, we need your help.

Please consider making a contribution to the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to help us complete this work. We have received many generous donations this year, and we have put them to work helping to get this community back on its feet. We are literally down to the last mile in this cleanup, and we can’t give up now.

The machines and trucks needed to perform this work cost money, and many homeowners do not have the insurance coverage they need to deal with all the dirt that the debris flow deposited on their homes and property.

Together, we can help these folks move forward, and we can complete the search for Jack and Lydia at the same time. In finishing this job, we will be affording the friends and families of the victims, and our whole community, some measure of peace.

We haven’t given up and we know the people of this community haven’t either. Let’s pull together now and get this done. Please donate at sbbucketbrigade.org/donate/ or through the SBCC Foundation (sbccfoundation.org) which is handling funds for the Bucket Brigade.