After historic snow storms, San Bernardino County officials assess plans for next one

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, September 22, 2023
After historic snow storms, San Bernardino County plans for next one
EMBED <>More Videos

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department released its Mountain Storm Response Review, and it details the challenges dealing with such a massive storm.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- Southern California mountains are used to snow, but not like the snow we had last winter.

The initial storm on Feb. 23 brought with it nearly 7 feet of snow accumulation. Then, a second punch on March 2 brought another 4 feet of heavy, wet snow to the mountains.

No one expected that.

"We're answering law enforcement and fire calls for service in snowcats, and that really was the only thing that was moving on that mountain for at least the first two days of the event," recalled San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus.

On Thursday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department released its Mountain Storm Response Review, and it details the challenges dealing with such a massive storm.

Nearly 100 rescues performed in San Bernardino County as mountain communities remain trapped in snow

Nearly 100 rescues have already been performed in San Bernardino County, where officials declared a state of emergency.

The hardest part was getting around. The roads were impassable and there was no place for snowplows to move the snow. The snow sometimes reached up to people's roofs, leaving residents trapped. That made getting supplies and rescuing residents much more difficult.

"Even by air, it was difficult to people," said Dicus. "When you have 12 feet of snow, safely landing a helicopter is a whole different ballgame as well. We need to clear helipads, parking lots, and a number of those things. So as you can imagine, it took a little while to be able to do that."

The community of Crestline is still cleaning up. The center of town is Goodwin's Market, which suffered massive destruction when the building's roof collapsed under the weight of tons of snow. Months later, they are rebuilding and posting updates and progress on the construction on their Facebook page.

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

"You'll start to see progress. We've all been waiting for this," said a spokesperson on the store's Facebook page. "As everybody drives by, I'm sure you glance over and go, 'What's happening? It's just sitting there.' So it's really exciting on our side to see some progress and see this construction phase start."

Officials say communication is key and found that getting that information out to residents was sometimes difficult. There was often no cellphone service.

"So trying to get out accurate information will be something we certainly focus on in the future, and having that communication, making sure the public knows what's going on," said Dicus.

Officials said there were some changes over the summer. All deputies now have department cell phones equipped with GPS tracking software. In addition, they will also set up remote locations in the mountain communities before a storm to be able to distribute food and other supplies.