Aid to Mountain Communities in San Bernardino County Following Severe Winter Storm
Residents in San Bernardino County mountain communities are struggling with the aftermath of a severe winter storm that brought several feet of snow, stranding many of them at home and leaving them without vital resources, such as food, fuel and medicine. In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in more than a dozen counties and activated the California National Guard to help out with disaster response, relief efforts and snow removal.
The San Bernardino National Forest announced Friday that it will be closed until March 16 due to the “extreme public safety threat,” prompting the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to tweet, “If you planned on visiting our local mountains for fun this weekend, please reconsider your plans.”
The County also declared a local emergency on Monday to seek state and federal assistance to clear snow from mountain highways and neighborhood streets, as well as to support other necessary work and services in mountain areas.
The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is working closely with San Bernardino County to provide assistance to the communities impacted by the winter storms. This includes working with Caltrans and the California National Guard (CNG) to bring in additional snow plows, road crews, and personnel to support operations. Cal OES is also coordinating food deliveries and escorts with power companies and service providers to access vulnerable populations who have been cut off by the heavy snow.
The American Red Cross and the Sheriff’s Department have established an emergency shelter and resource center for those who cannot get home at Redlands East Valley High School. Videos taken today in Crestline showed a large “Help us!!” sign written in the snow.
Snowplows are working their way through highways, but it could take a week or 10 days to reach some areas still walled off by snow. Residents are dealing with as much as 7 feet of snow in some areas, and businesses are closed and gas stations are beginning to run out of fuel.
Among the exemptions to the closure of the San Bernardino National Forest are those providing medical services, law enforcement, wildfire suppression, search and rescue operations, and those involved in critical infrastructure operations.
With the region still recovering from the rare winter weather, state and local officials are continuing to work to provide assistance to affected mountain communities in the form of food, fuel, and medical care.
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