This afternoon a small group of Pacifica staff and faculty living north of the Milpas exit off the 101 freeway in Santa Barbara came together in community. Simultaneously, Pacifica staff and faculty living in Carpinteria and further south also met. Joined via Zoom by others unable to access either in-person meeting spaces, we held our first community gathering since the dreadful mudslide that has destroyed a portion of the small town of Montecito after a heavy rainstorm on early Tuesday morning, January 9th. Despite being seperated by the mud and debris that has shut down the 101 freeway, we took comfort in coming together.
There was relief in the room, knowing that all of the people in our small gathering were safe and unharmed. However, at the same time what was subconsciously being shared amongst our psyches was knowing or being in close relation to the 18 victims, or those 43 people still missing from this catastrophic event.
Over the last four days, staff and faculty have been working online and with the Pacifica emergency team to plan and coordinate for the next upcoming residentials, events, and other administrative tasks. However, alongside this has been the imagery, the videos, the stories we are witnessing daily of the devastation that has taken place on 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 came out of the Thomas fire with both campuses in tact. We rejoiced in meeting one another again after hearing that Program Administrator Sue Gary was evacuated on three seperate occasions during the fire. Also evacuated was faculty member Susan Rowland, Clinical Practicum Associate Cynthia Fredericksen, Program Administrator Meghan Saxton-Sandoval, Senior Dissertation Administrator Robyn Cass, and the list goes on. It was the start of the grieving process and our effort to get back on track. Once again we have been hit with tragedy, roughly five weeks after the Thomas fire.
We are happy to report that both campuses again were left unharmed by the rains and mudslides. At this time, however, 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.
As updates are given to us regarding access to our campuses, the Pacifica management team is working with chairs, faculty, and staff regarding upcoming residential sessions. As decisions are made, they will be contacting students via email for updated information and we will continue to post here on our blog 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.
Here 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: