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The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade prepares for and responds to natural disasters and community crises through volunteer training, coordination, and deployment.

Here are some important steps you can take to ensure safety during an emergency.

Sign up and lend a hand! Volunteers are the backbone of a resilient community.

The Bucket Brigade schedules regular volunteer events and work days.

Support community resilience by becoming a Bucket Brigade Member today.

Our Story

The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade formed as a community volunteer response to the tragic debris flow of January 9, 2018, which devastated the community of Montecito in Santa Barbara County, CA. The disaster caused 23 fatalities and more than 150 injuries.  More than 100 homes were destroyed and an additional 400 homes were damaged. In the aftermath of this disaster the Bucket Brigade emerged from the mud, leading an army of caring neighbors to dig out homes, clear and restore open spaces, restore old trails and blaze new ones to reconnect the community. The goal was simple: help our neighbors in their immediate time of need. Despite the overwhelming grief, our collective instinct toward action kicked in and we started digging together. Learn more about our story by watching the video below.

The Bucket Brigade is here to make sure we’re prepared for whatever the future may bring. We build grassroots community resilience.

   Our Principles

  • A caring, cooperative and organized community is the fundamental building block of resilience.
  • Local knowledge empowers all preparation and recovery efforts, making them far more efficient and effective.
  • Swift, collaborative and sustained action is required for true recovery and resilience.
  • Community action based on these principles can turn the disaster cycle into the resilience cycle, and allow us all to be better prepared for whatever comes next.

We know disasters change communities, but how we change is up to us.

Our Work

Communities experience disasters in a pattern that repeats and the same needs and gaps in services show up again and again.

The Disaster Cycle: Our Current Reality

Immediate response to a disaster is a flurry of activity and a tremendous investment of resources over a few days. Mitigation starts almost immediately but there is a delay before recovery resources are activated. Short-term recovery (3-6 months) blends into long-term recovery which is usually well-resourced for 9-18 months but can take many years. Post-disaster assessment leads to some planning, prevention and preparation, but these efforts diminish over time and we tend to collectively forget the severity and cost of previous disasters.

The Gaps: Where Systems Fail

The roots of the Bucket Brigade have grown in response to local disasters over many decades. Each time, we’ve seen the same needs and gaps in services, and each time, we get a little better at helping to meet those needs. Nobody wants to be alone in this – cleaning up our homes and yards, rebuilding, and preparing for the next disaster. The process of preparing together, responding together, recovering and rebuilding as a real community is the best way possible to weave a genuine community safety net.

Our Plan: Building Capacity for Resilience

We build grassroots resilience capacity every day:

  • We organize local communities and volunteer leaders for resilience and cooperation.
  • We train volunteers and volunteer leaders to be prepared for cooperative action at the Bucket Brigade Academy and through year-round Community Uplift Projects.
  • We deploy spontaneous volunteers for disaster relief and to provide humanitarian aid in response to community crises.

Our vision is that our community gets better for everyone, no matter what comes next. 


The Bucket Brigade and its leadership has been honored throughout California with the following awards:

Nonprofit of the Year 2018 California Association of Nonprofits

Environmental Hero Award Environmental Defense Center

Community Hero Award Montecito Firefighters Charitable Foundation

Local Heroes Santa Barbara Independent

Community Hero Award Santa Barbara Contractors Association

Honoree of the Year 2018 Hospitality Santa Barbara

Spirit of Service Award Rotary Club of Montecito

Community Service Award Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region

Community Service Award Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

Jacaranda Award for Community Service Santa Barbara Beautiful

Sky Changers Award The Carbon Institute

Honorary Membership Rotary Club of Santa Barbara

Lutah Maria Riggs Award Santa Barbara Chapter American Institute of Architects and American Riviera Bank

Join the Bucket Brigade today and become a part of the local solution to a global problem: grassroots community resilience.

Contact Us!


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