San Bernardino County declares state of emergency as storm dumps more snow

Tuesday, February 28, 2023
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY (KABC) -- San Bernardino County declared a state of emergency Monday after residents in mountain communities were left stranded and snowed-in due to this week's winter storm.

Several feet of snow fell over the weekend, with more expected to fall through Wednesday.

The county said it's seeking state and federal assistance to clear snow from vital highways and neighborhood streets.

"[Monday's] emergency declaration is an important step which will elevate the state's response to this extreme weather event," said Board of Supervisors Chair Dawn Rowe, whose Third District includes the impacted mountain communities. "Our team of state and local partners will continue working round-the-clock on a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to bring relief and resources to our residents, while also prioritizing the safety of all."

With hundreds of roads still shut down, most businesses closed and gas stations beginning to run out of fuel, people staying in mountain communities are hoping snow plows will be able to clear the roads and highways to establish safe routes out of the area.

"We just can't get around," said Daniel Guckin of Running Springs. "Some roads are clear but I live on an ice lake. The unfortunate thing is I am sick and my daughter's sick. We have two prescriptions at Rite Aid but we can't get them."

The county public works department and Caltrans crews have been working to allow access along key routes for first responders, and the county said progress is being made in some residential areas.

San Bernardino County declares state of emergency as storm dumps more snow

However, officials said "there is no estimate for when mountain highways will open to public traffic or when residential areas will be safe for local travel."

"It just turned up, the snow," said Jacqueline Lauder of Lake Arrowhead. "It's not really cleaning it out and I don't think it's for lack of trying, I think it's just too much snow."

Angie Gouirand, a Running Springs resident, said she had to dig her way out of her home to find supplies.

"I've been up here since 1999 and this is the worst," she said. "You can't even see my house. It's like all the way to the top."

Meanwhile, people flocked to Jensen's Miniature Market to grab what they could. However, Jensen's market supervisor Hailey Steck said they're running low on essentials and their next shipment can't make it up the mountain.

"We need a lot," Steck said. "A lot of people are wanting eggs, milk, all that good stuff, more bread. All of the little stuff that people want. Fruit, more dog food, cat food because people are really looking for that stuff too so it's just anything we can get is great."

On SR-18 in San Bernardino, some drivers like Karina Nevarez chained up their vehicle's tires with hopes they'll be escorted up to check on their homes.

"Since Thursday, and we were staying at my sister's but we've been trying to come home and they're like nope," she said.

Among those waiting is Rick O'Brien, owner of O'Brien Plumbing, who said road conditions have prevented them for getting to those who are dealing with the aftermath of the storm like broken pipes.

"My shop, my trucks, all my guys; I had to send them to another job with no tools today because all they're tools and everything are up there," O'Brien said.

Stephen Holeyfield's street in Crestline is buried under more than 3 feet of snow.

Like many other residents in the San Bernardino mountains, the disabled veteran is still waiting to be dug out.

"We're running out of food, we're running out of propane for our heat, without the streets being plowed and without the propane coming, because it just can't get here, I don't know what we do? I mean .. do we call the police? Do we call the fire department and ask for an evacuation or something?" he said.

Meanwhile, the county and the American Red Cross have opened an emergency shelter and resource center for those who are stranded.

Those in need of help can stop by Redlands East Valley High School, located at 31000 E. Colton Ave. in Redlands. The shelter will be open daily starting Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The county said a call center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to provide information. You can call the center at 909-387-3911.

All agencies are asking everyone to avoid the area and allow crews, first responders, and supply vehicles priority access to the limited number of roads that have been cleared.

READ ALSO | Lake Arrowhead residents still digging out from massive storm even as more snow on the way

Copyright © 2024 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.