State And Local Personnel Rescue San Bernardino Residents Buried In The Aftermath Of The Snow Storm
Efforts to dig out residents of Southern California’s San Bernardino County continued Monday after back-to-back storms dropped over 8 feet of snow in some locations, trapping residents in their homes.
While the mountains portion of the county is no stranger to snowfall, crews could not keep up with the intensity and duration of the recent snowstorm. Walls of snow blocked roads and buried homes, requiring the California National Guard, firefighters and other emergency workers to band together to dig out residents through the weekend.
Hundreds of personnel, including firefighters, contractors, CalTrans employees and deputies attended a daily briefing Monday morning before traveling to San Bernardino County mountain communities to assist residents, and the transportation division was en route to help transport residents who wanted to leave the mountain.
The National Weather Service recorded 100 inches of snow on the ground 1 mile north-northeast of Lake Arrowhead, an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County over 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, by March 3. Power outages continue throughout the county due to heavy snowfall and damaged utility equipment, with the snow causing additional hurdles to assess the damage, according to the NWS. Over 1,200 people remained without power across San Bernardino County as of Monday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US.
Lisa Griggs, one of the many people who has been stranded in the San Bernardino mountains, told AccuWeather late last week that supplies were being flown in by helicopter due to roads in the area being impassable due to snow. Griggs also said that food supplies were low in part due to the roof of a grocery store that collapsed under the weight of the snow.
Five miles from Lake Arrowhead, the community of Crestline received 16 inches of snowfall on both Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 as the first storm rolled through the area, followed by an additional foot of snow on March 1. By March 2, NWS measured 100 inches of snow, just over 8 feet, on the ground 1 mile east of Crestline.
In the neighboring community of Running Springs, 150 inches — or 12.5 feet — of snow was on the ground.
“It’s frustrating for us,” one Crestline resident told CNN. “For the people who can’t get their medicine, I’m sure it’s scary for them. People that can’t get food, yeah, they can’t get out.”
Food distribution sites were opened in Wrightwood, Running Springs, Crestline and Blue Jay Monday, though the issue of getting to supply sites remained a barrier for many.
One CALFIRE crew located a family in need of diapers and baby food, and hiked three-quarters of a mile in the snow to deliver the supplies.
Lake Arrowhead resident Michelle Calkins told KTLA 5 that folks were tired and “broken.”
“There’s still panic because people are still trapped,” she said. “We know the roads are not 100% plowed yet.”
San Bernardino was one of the 13 counties where California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the impacts of inclement weather.
Officials had originally estimated it would take two weeks to clear all the snow, but that estimate was later revised to at least a week due to the additional aid.
“Because of the state’s efforts and the equipment that’s coming in behind us, we’re hoping to drop that down to a week,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a Friday update.
CAL FIRE crews were on the scene in the San Bernardino mountains over the weekend, removing snow from roofs, gas meters and driveways of residents of the town of Crestline. Photos from the department showed a crew digging out a house where the snow had blocked the majority of the door. Walls of snow flanked the freshly cleaned road, and crews were photographed clearing a pathway to a house in waist-high snow.
“Together, a total of 165 residents in Crestline have been contacted to ensure that gas meters, driveways and vehicles are accessible & free of snow, medical issues are addressed and meals distributed,” the CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office wrote over Twitter. “Firefighters were able to safely evacuate 8 residents yesterday taking them to Goodwin’s Market where the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies shuttled them to the Red Cross Shelter.”
The department added that about 30 cases of meals were distributed to residents in need, and one resident was transported by a ground ambulance to a local area hospital.
“I believe that they’re probably doing all that they can,” the Crestline resident told CNN. “This is a mess. I think they’re doing what they can, honestly. We’ve never had to deal with this before, so it’s a first time.”
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