Communities in the San Bernardino Mountains continue to get slammed by heavy snow this week, leaving residents stranded, supplies running low and supermarket shelves bare.
Those who were able to escape before the blizzard-like conditions hit are anxious to get home and check on their loved ones and property, but drivers going up Highway 18 are only allowed to go with California Highway Patrol and Caltrans escorts, and lines are long.
Now, many living in unincorporated mountain communities are making a desperate plea for help.
“What we need are plows,” Crestline resident Nathan Hazard said. “At this point, we need more than plows because it’s up to 5 feet of packed snow that’s filling our roads.”
Hazard and dozens of his neighbors are stranded with no way out. Roads are impassable and vital resources are scarce.
“There are many people who don’t have food,” Hazard explained.
Lake Arrowhead resident Vincent Plant said the snow is just too deep.
“There’s going to be a ton of people needing help just to get out of their driveways,” he said.
Many others in the area have lost power amid frigid temperatures. Those who do have power have been taking in their neighbors.
“We have a family staying with us from Cedarpines Park who has not had power for five days,” Crestline resident Steve Lucarelli, told KTLA. “So far, as long as we have power, we are OK, but if our power goes, this is going to be a really dangerous turn for most of the families up here.”
Supervisor Dawn Rowe said on Tuesday that “there’s no way we could have anticipated the depth of snow that landed over the course of time, to be able to clear that,” but crews remain hard at work clearing roadways and helping those stranded.
“It is our No. 1 priority to get to those residents so they can have the save environment that we hope to provide to them,” Rowe said in a Wednesday press conference. “Plowing of the roads is continuing 24/7. We have thrown all of our assets at this, and we’ve requested additional assets from our state partners and anybody else who can provide them.”
The focus now is on providing food, medicine and access to those who need it, though plowing could take several days to clear roads, and perhaps even more than a week for some areas, Rowe said.
To make matters worse, Goodwin’s Market, a store that many locals rely on, was forced to close Wednesday after the snowpack caved in the store’s roof.
“There’s definitely a very, very clear feeling of abandonment happening on this mountain right now,” Hazard told KTLA. “What I’m definitely saying to our county officials is, ‘Please help us.’”
Rowe said that message has come through loud and clear.
“We hear you, we know you are concerned and we know that this is changing with the additional snow that fell last night,” Rowe said Wednesday. “Please know that we are working 24/7 … We are putting everything we have at this. We hear your pleas for help, and we will be there for you.”
That storm also led to a snow day for the Bear Valley Unified School District on Wednesday.
County officials say residents who are stranded and in need of food, medicine, baby formula or other vital supplies should call the emergency operations hotline at 909-387-3911.
For animal services, call 800-472-5609, and those in need of a shelter can find one at Redlands East Valley High School.