Newsom declares state of emergency for LA, San Bernardino counties due to winter storms

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Thursday, March 2, 2023
Newsom declares state of emergency for LA, San Bernardino counties
Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for L.A. County, San Bernardino County and 11 other counties impacted by the recent severe winter storms.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency Wednesday to help California counties impacted by the recent severe winter storms.

The proclamation will help with disaster response and relief for these counties:

  • Amador
  • Kern
  • Los Angeles
  • Madera
  • Mariposa
  • Mono
  • Nevada
  • San Bernardino
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Sierra
  • Sonoma
  • Tulare

According to a press release, the governor has also activated the State Operations Center to help with county-led emergency response efforts, especially in San Bernardino County.

"Significant numbers of state personnel are on the ground supporting San Bernardino County, including from the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol, working closely with the county-led Incident Command to rapidly deploy resources and address emergency management needs," the press release said.

Residents are dealing with as much as 7 feet (2 meters) of snow, and sheriffs' authorities have conducted 17 rescue operations to help off-roaders and skiers. Emergency crews are trying to reach residents who need assistance.

In Crestline, the entire roof of Goodwin and Sons Market collapsed Wednesday as safety inspectors were onsite checking up on reported damage. Officials raced to salvage food that residents sorely need from its shelves.

Dawn Rowe, chair of the county's board of supervisors, said no one was injured.

"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. 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.

Reprieve was on the way as the mountain community continued to dig out, with much of California expecting drier weather on Thursday. A key mountain section of Interstate 5, a major north-south highway, reopened Wednesday afternoon following closures due to snowy conditions, while blizzard warnings expired in the Sierra Nevada further north.

Anthony Cimino, a 51-year-old retiree, said he's been snowed in for about a week in the mountain community of Running Springs. He finally managed to clear his decks, but not for long.

MORE: Here's a look at what the Sierra faced as snow buried homes, cars

"I woke up this morning and there was another two-and-a-half feet on them," he said. "It was kind of like Groundhog Day."

Residents of these towns are grappling with so much snow they're running out of space to put it; clearing one area adds heaps to another. Grocery shelves had run bare of some items, like bread, and were running low on eggs and milk Tuesday. Cars remained buried under snow and roads closed.

Most people haven't witnessed blizzard conditions like those that dumped 8 feet of snow in Lake Arrowhead.

"I have lived here since 1989, I have never, ever seen a storm like this before," said Michelle Kennedy. "The snow accumulation, the continual slamming of the snow day after day."

Countless residents have been trapped for days in their homes with snow removal vehicles unable to keep up.

"When the roads stopped getting plowed. that's what created panic," said Michelle Calkins of Lake Arrowhead. "We're not just building snowmen up here; this isn't a normal snow storm. People are legitimately trapped, without food and we're running out of food or medical supplies."

Eyewitness News spoke with a driver who dug his car out and picked up nonperishable food for some of his stranded neighbors.

"This is all the stuff I got for like four people, they don't have groceries and stuff like that," he said.

Plus, all the snow on the roofs of homes and businesses are creating another set of problems.

"A fear of carbon monoxide poisoning, a lot of people's vents are on the top of their roofs, well they are covered now," said Kennedy.

San Bernardino County officials said so far, they have made about 100 storm-related rescues.

"We're just here in the mountains trying to survive," said Kennedy.

The Associated Press and KGO-TV contributed to this article.