Imperial Valley Press
California’s snow-stranded residents need food, plows, help
LOS ANGELES – Olivia Duke said she’s been trapped in her home in the snow-plastered mountains east of Los Angeles for so long that by Thursday the only food she had left was oatmeal.
Snow plows have created a wall of ice between her driveway and the road in the San Bernardino Mountains, and there are at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow weighing on her roof. While her power has been restored, she only has half a gallon of gas left for her generator in case it goes out again.
“California is not used to this. We don’t have this kind of snow,” said Duke, a corporate recruiter who lives in the community of Cedarpines Park. “I thought I was prepared. But not for this kind of Godzilla bomb of snow. This is something you couldn’t possibly really have prepared for.”
With Southern California’s mountain communities under a snow emergency, residents are grappling with power outages, roof collapses and lack of baby formula and medicine. Many have been trapped in their homes for a week, their cars buried in snow. County workers fielded more than 500 calls for assistance Wednesday while firefighters tackled possible storm- related explosions and evacuated the most vulnerable with snowcats.
Californians are usually elated to see snow-covered mountains from Los Angeles and drive a couple of hours up to sled, ski and snowboard. But what started out as a beautiful sight has become a hazardous nightmare for those renting vacation homes in the scenic, tree-lined communities or who live there year-round. Back-to-back-snow-storms have blanketed the region repeatedly, giving people no time to even shovel out.
Some resort communities received as much as 10 feet (3 meters) of snow over the past week, according to the National Weather Service. So much snow fell that ski resorts had to close and roads became impassable. No snow was falling Thursday, and authorities said they hoped to clear as much as possible from the roads while the weather was benign.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency in 13 counties late Wednesday and called up the National Guard to assist.
In the northern part of the state, mountain communities are grappling with similar conditions, though the population is smaller and residents are more accustomed to significant snowfall, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
“These are just areas that don’t typically get that much snow,” he said of Southern California’s mountain communities. “It exceeded the public’s perception of what the risk is.”
James Norton, 39, said he and his girlfriend have been stranded in Crestline for nearly a week after their SUV got trapped in the snow. They’ve been racking up credit card debt to pay for a hotel while buying TV dinners from a nearby convenience store.