Some San Bernardino County residents remain trapped in mountains as storm cleanup continues
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. - Residents and visitors in San Bernardino County grew frustrated as they remain trapped in their homes and vacation rentals due to a series of winter storms.
On Monday, San Bernardino County declared a local emergency after a powerful storm dumped feet of snow on mountain communities over the weekend. On Wednesday, a new system brought heavy snowfall into the area.
The state of emergency declaration asks state and federal agencies for help to clear snow from mountain highways and neighborhood streets. A 24/7 non-emergency hotline is available for those in need of medication or food deliveries. Those looking to use the option can call 909-387-3911.
On Tuesday evening, eligible Big Bear residents were temporarily allowed to drive through Highway 18 through Lucerne Valley with Caltrans escorts. However, the escorts were canceled by Wednesday morning due to the snowy conditions and officials deemed the roadway unsafe for travel.
San Bernardino County officials said crews have been working around the block to plow county roads as quickly as possible and are prioritizing primary roads to create access from state highways.
"We hear you, we know you are concerned and we know that this is changing with the additional snow that fell last night," said Dawn Rowe, Chairwoman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
She continued to say, "We know we have stranded residents. It is our number one priority to get to those residents so that they can have the safe environment that we hope to provide to them and every available resource that we have at the county and the state that they can provide will be thrown at this incident to provide a level of safety to our residents."
Officials also said there have been dozens of search and rescue missions and as they continue to focus on primary roads, several properties have been damaged.
Fire crews have responded to over 96 residents using special snow vehicles and first responders continue to wait for additional resources from the state and federal government after declaring a state of emergency.
In addition, officials said crews have another 500 miles of roads that still need to be dug out.
One resident said he remains frustrated about the lack of communication.
The latest update provided by the county states the following:
- Lake Arrowhead: Roads 5% passable
- Running Springs: Roads 20% passable
- Arrowbear: Roads 30% passable
- Green Valley Lake: Roads 30% passable
- Cedarpines Park: Nearly all roads have at least one pass
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Residents, vacationers stranded in San Bernardino Mountains after weekend snowstorm
Lake Arrowhead saw feet of snow dumped over the weekend, and forecasts project as many as 30 more inches of snow in the area through Wednesday.
Jerrod Carter from Los Alamitos went up to the mountains with his wife, three kids and another couple on Tuesday of last week. Their plan was to leave Thursday, but they're still stuck.
"You would never think that California would see snow like this, this heavy," Carter said. "We're down to canned soup. We have one bag of top ramen left. We have a couple servings of orange juice."
While Carter and others are stuck on the mountains, dozens more are trying to get up to the mountains — whether it's to get food to loved ones, or just to get home. Several people waited in lines on area highways for hours Monday, waiting and hoping for officials to permit them up the mountain.
"I've got a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old stuck out there, no power. They've run out of food. They're sharing with the neighbors, and the pipes are frozen," said Fawn Duncan, adding she thinks that officials "don't care."
Officials are asking mountain residents and anyone currently not on the mountain to avoid the area as crews work to clear roads. All agencies are asking mountain residents and non-residents not currently on the mountain to avoid the area and allow road crews, first responders, and supply vehicles priority access to the limited number of roads that have been cleared.
"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," said Board of Supervisors Chair Dawn Rowe, whose Third District includes the impacted mountain communities.
San Bernardino County Public Works and Caltrans crews have been working around the clock to clear snowed-covered roads, but officials said they have no estimate as to when mountain highways will be open to traffic.
To put things in perspective on how intense the snowfall was in the San Bernardino County mountains, a man shared a time-lapse video showing what it's like to dig out snow for four days. The video was taken in Big Bear Lake.
San Bernardino County and the American Red Cross have established an emergency shelter and resource center for trapped residents at Redlands East Valley High School at 31000 E. Colton Ave. in Redlands.
The center will have supplies available until 8 p.m. Monday night, then daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The county's also established a call center. Residents can call 909-387-3911 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. for information.
Information can also be found at snowinfo.sbcounty.gov.