This afternoon, we gathered for our first Community Meeting since the mudslide devastate the town of Montecito, following a huge catastrophic storm in the early hours of January 9th. A group of Pacifica staff and faculty living north of the Milpas Street Exit of Freeway 101 in Santa Barbara came together in community. Simultaneously, other Pacifica staff and faculty who live in Carpinteria and further south were also meeting. We were joined via Zoom and teleconference. Despite having been separated by the mud and debris that has shut down Freeway 101, we took comfort in coming together.
Relief ‘hugged’ the room, knowing that all the people in our small gathering were safe and unharmed. At the same time, our psyches shared the knowing of being in close relation to the 18 victims; or, the 43 people still missing from this catastrophic event.
Over the few days, staff and faculty have worked online and with the Pacifica’s Emergency Team to plan and coordinate for the next residentials, events, and other administrative tasks. As our teamwork, imagery (e.g., photographs and videos) with detailed stories showed the devastation that lingers along the roads we travel, the places we shop, the restaurants we frequent, and more importantly the people we personally know who have had a great loss due to this unimaginable event. As one faculty member stated, we are all in “collective shock over what has happened.”
We escaped the Thomas fire with both campuses basically in tact. We rejoiced as we greeted one another. Our gratitude was immense as we learned that: Program Administrator Sue Gary was evacuated three times, as well as faculty member Susan Rowland; Clinical Practicum Associate Cynthia Frederickson, Program Administrator Meghan Saxton-Sandoval, Senior Dissertation Administrator were safe and the list goes on. It was to be the start of our grieving process and an effort to return to normalcy. Yes, we are once again been experiencing tragedy, less than five weeks after the Thomas Fire. We believe that both campuses are again unharmed by the rains and mudslides – as we wait an opportunity to visit and access.
Currently, staff and faculty are not permitted to enter either campus. We continue to be reachable by email. We ask that students check their my.pacifica.edu for updates from their Chairs’ and Program Administrators. Alumni should contact Dianne Travis-Teague in Alumni Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As information is provided regarding access to our campuses, the Pacifica Management Team will continue working with chairs, faculty, and staff regarding upcoming sessions. As decisions are made, students will be contacted via email and we will continue to post and share through our social media channels.
Again, please do not hesitate to reach out to your chair and program administrators if you have any questions or leave us a message.
Below is recent broadcast from ABC capturing some of the devastation that came to the town of Montecito: http://abcnews.go.com/
For more information on the situation in Santa Barbara County, please see: