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2023 Winter Storm Deployment

2023 Winter Storm Deployment

Thanks To Our Partners

On January 9th 2023, we planned to remember the 5th anniversary of the 2018 debris flow. Instead, we faced a massive winter storm that brought evacuations, flooding, and landslides.

So, once again, we picked up our buckets and shovels and started digging people out.

Winter Storm Deployment By the Numbers

Properties Assisted: 45 | Total Debris Removed: 294,800 lbs | Square Feet of Plastic Tarp Deployed on Landslides: 6,400 | Sandbags Filled: 3,000+ |
Volunteers Deployed: 200+ | Gubernatorial Volunteers: 1

Properties Assisted: 45
Total Debris Removed: 294,800 lbs
Square Feet of Plastic Tarp Deployed on Landslides: 6,400
Sandbags Filled: 3,000+
Volunteers Deployed: 200+
Gubernatorial Volunteers: 1

West Side Santa Barbara

Mission Creek overflowed its banks, bringing water, mud, and debris into adjacent homes and yards, damaging dozens of properties, stranding cars and generally making a huge mess downtown.

Teresa and Richard were in their home when the flood arrived.  They watched in horror out of their windows as the water, mud and debris surrounded them on all sides.  They needed help.

Floodwaters brought thousands of pounds of mud and debris into their yard and under their foundation. We dug that stuff out of there and took it away.

This neighboring structure was filled with mud and flood-water seeped into the walls and started mold growth – requiring all the drywall and insulation to be removed.

Ride-along on a Bucket Brigade workday on Bath Street with co-founder and CEO Abe Powell 

Bucket Brigade volunteers at work on the West Side.


Flood basins overflowed and the surrounding homes were hammered by flash flooding.

Neighboring homes filled with flood-water which seeped into the furniture, walls and cabinets and deposited thousands of pounds of dirt and debris outside.

Furniture, drywall and insulation were ruined and had to be removed. At this site we also repaired fence and restored the landscaping, filling sink holes and closing up the back wall to allow the family seeing-eye dog to return safely.

Here we see Bucket Brigade Volunteers in Orcutt doing what we do:
Team Up, Tool Up, Ride Out, Get It Done.

East Side Santa Barbara Flooding

Sycamore Creek overflowed into the Flamingo Mobile Home Community and left mud and debris in its wake.  Neighbors needed our help.

Mud flowed from the creek into yards. 

At this site, the woman who lived in this mobile home was trying to clean the yard up with a pie spatula and a bucket. (We are not kidding.)

That approach didn’t work so well so she called in the Bucket Brigade.  Team Leader Quinn Burgard, Leslie H. and others helped to get this yard cleaned up.

Trash on and around the bridge was removed and the creek banks re-contoured.

Bucket Brigade volunteers at work next to Hutash St. on the West Side.

Bucket Brigade Academy Team Leaders:

In the summer of 2022 we trained the first two cadres of high school students to lead volunteer deployments.
In January and February 2023, elite Academy Team Leaders led groups of adult and youth volunteers in humanitarian aid deployments across Santa Barbara County.
People were impressed.
We were impressed.
Seriously, this is the change we want to see in the world and we just watched it happen right in front of our eyes.  We even managed to take a couple of photos and videos.  If you want to build grassroots community resilience, you need to check this out.

Team Leaders briefing volunteers on wet drywall and insulation demolition on the West Side of Santa Barbara.

Youth and adult Team Leaders running logistics for 30+ spontaneous volunteers during a Winter Storm Deployment in 2023.

Bucket Brigade Team Leaders show up, help out, and learn something new. Every weekend.


Montecito and San Ysidro Creeks once again jumped their banks and flooded areas of Montecito. Heavy rain on saturated soil brought hundreds of landslides and washouts across the mountains. Roads and driveways were undermined and houses were damaged or put in jeopardy by eroding hillsides. The Bucket Brigade went to work with sandbags, plastic sheets and heavy to clear roads and driveways and to prevent further erosion in damaged areas. Erosion control measures are ongoing across the Santa Barbara front country.

The Bucket Brigade’s new Montecito Neighborhood Trail Network (MNTN) was damaged in multiple locations on Hot Springs and Olive Mill Roads when Montecito creek flooded.  The trail repairs are ongoing.

Montecito Creek right before it jumped over the banks and flooded Olive Mill Road.

One of hundreds of Mountain Drive landslides that damaged roads and blocked access.

After a landslide or a “washout,” it is important to protect the area from more rain (so it doesn’t slide even more).  That is where the sandbags and tarps come into play.  We delivered a lot of sandbags and installed a lot of tarps this winter.

Many hands make light work at Lower Manning Park – helping neighbors by filling and delivering sandbags.
This is especially helpful for elderly neighbors or people with bad backs etc…  This is kind of activity is a great thing for high school students (with their young backs) to do for community service…hint, hint.

All of this work was made possible with the help of our 2023 Winter Storm Deployment Partners and Bucket Brigade Annual Membership.

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