Taking stock of their lives and remembering those who were lost, residents on Thursday trickled back to the Southern California town that was devastated two weeks ago by mudslides that killed at least 21 people and destroyed more than a hundred homes.
Santa Barbara County officials finally lifted evacuation orders this week for about 1,600 people in the hillside enclave of Montecito, while thousands of others still waited for word that it was safe to return.
Sheriff's deputies drove vans full of evacuees back to their homes. The owners of those that were heavily damaged or destroyed were allowed to briefly search the rubble for precious belongings.
Curtis Skene fought back tears as firefighters uncovered old photographs of his father in the ruins of his home.
"You have to be grateful you're OK," Skene said. "It's just stuff."