As the situation for those stranded in San Bernardino mountain communities worsens, with many running low on essentials like food and medicine, Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to get much-needed aid to the area.
Many of the mountain roads remain impassable after the latest storm dumped more than five feet of snow on the region. Plows are in short supply and some people have been trapped in their homes in for nearly a week without power.
Travel in and out of the area has been crippled by the closure of Highway 18. Drivers going up the highway are only allowed with California Highway Patrol and Caltrans escorts, and the lines continue to be long.
“We need the national guard. We need help. We are stuck. We are stranded. We are feeling defeated,” Crestline resident Lindsey Spence told KTLA. “It is astronomical what has happened up here. We don’t have the resources to help people. We don’t have the resources to deal with this.”
In another crushing blow to the Crestline community, the entire roof of Goodwin and Son’s Market, which many locals rely on, collapsed Wednesday under the weight of snow.
“We are the only grocery store in town, been there for 77 years,” Mike Johnstone, vice president of the market, said.
Other grocery stores are miles away but reaching them amid stormy conditions has been almost impossible.
“Some of the more remote roads, could be a week or two before we can get back in there,” said a Caltrans representative. “We are trying to bring back extra resources which will accelerate that, but for now, they should plan for a week or two.”
Spence points out that many people living in the mountain communities do not have a week’s worth of food left, and that the severity of the situation is dire.
“Some people are without power, some heaters aren’t working,” she said. “There’s no way people can last that long. We’re not Tahoe. We’re not Mammoth. We’re a small, little community and there’s no way we can handle all of this.”
The governor’s state of emergency declaration said that the California Office of Emergency Services has been activated and is working with Caltrans and San Bernardino County officials to bring more snowplows, as well as road crews to help clear the area, deliver food and water supplies and set up shelters for residents. It also stated that “personnel from CAL FIRE and the California National Guard are readied to support operations.”
Twelve other counties, including Los Angeles, are included in the emergency declaration.