Big Bear Lake mayor's warning to visitors: Do not come here during snow emergency

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Friday, March 3, 2023
Big Bear Lake mayor's warning to snow tourists: Do not come here now
The mayor of Big Bear Lake is asking people to hold off on visiting the area until the community recovers from the current snow emergency.

BIG BEAR, Calif. (KABC) -- The mayor of Big Bear Lake is asking people to hold off on visiting the area until the community recovers from the current snow emergency.

"Every storm is different and has its own nuance to it," Mayor Randall Putz said. "This one snowed really hard and it, frankly, overwhelmed our infrastructure.

"So, if you were to come up, you're not going to be able to play in the snow. You're not going to be able to do a lot of different things."

According to Putz, the storm did not hit the city as hard as it did neighboring areas, but Big Bear Lake has run out of gas and there are some empty store shelves.

"We're still digging out and we need people's patience as we finish that work," the mayor said. "And it's real helpful when people don't get in the way of that essential work."

As of Friday morning, there was just one road cleared, and essential convoys are using it to bring in supplies. Putz said even one accident could shut down the highway for days.

Around-the-clock plowing has been underway in the area but it could take more than a week to reach some areas, said Dawn Rowe, chair of the county's board of supervisors. Residents are dealing with as much as 7 feet of snow, and sheriffs' personnel have conducted 17 rescue operations to help off-roaders and skiers. Emergency crews are trying to reach residents who need assistance.

The Goodwin and Sons Market in Crestline will need to undergo major repairs after its roof collapsed under the heavy piles of snow

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday proclaimed a state of emergency in San Bernardino and 12 other counties to support disaster relief by making state agencies and aid available and asking for federal help in clearing and repairing highways. The governor announced that the state was bringing in more snow plows and road crews to help clear roads and he authorized the California National Guard to mobilize for disaster response.

"We know that roofs are starting to collapse," she said. "There are other businesses that will likely be affected by the weight of the snow."

The county has set up a hotline for residents dealing with issues like frozen pipes, roof problems and food shortages: (909)387-3911. The San Bernardino Mountains are a major tourism and recreation destination but also home to a large year-round population in small cities and communities around lakes and scattered along winding roads. About 80,000 people live either part- or full-time in the communities affected, said David Wert, a county spokesman.