“People are getting desperate. They need medication. They need food for their children,” said Derek Hayes, a resident of the community of Cedar Glen. He said he has been snowshoeing out of his home for days to get groceries and check on elderly neighbors.
San Bernardino County is one of 13 under a state of emergency issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, allowing for an influx of emergency personnel and resources, including the California National Guard, to support rescue and recovery.
One of the most critical tasks has been plowing about 500 miles of tight, winding roads throughout the San Bernardino County mountain areas, officials said last week.
By Sunday, about 80% of the county-maintained roadways had been made passable, the county said in an update. “Passable means at least one lane open with less than 8 inches of snow, which can be navigated by four-wheel drive vehicles with chains.” the update said.
Approximately 150 people were rescued from their neighborhoods Saturday and an additional 22 residents were taken to shelters or off the mountain on Sunday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies also distributed food to residents over the weekend.
Some residents, however, say that though the main roads may be cleared, their neighborhood streets are still blanketed in snow, meaning they must either wait for help or trek miles to reach shelters or food distribution sites, which is not an option for those who are disabled or elderly.
Hayes said a snowplow operator told him that his road couldn’t be plowed because snow-covered cars were on the street.
“We were promised that help is coming. But we’re getting a little impatient here,” he said. “We maybe have a week’s food left. A lot of our stores are closed now because of roof collapse and the gas stations seem to be short on fuel still.”
“I’m not sure how much longer we can hold out,” he said.
San Bernardino County resident Iliana Vargas and her family have been unable to return to their home for days after they ventured out to get supplies, only to be told they could not return to the house due to road closures.
“We have our whole life up there, our businesses, my job, my laptop, everything is there,” Vargas said. She is concerned her house may collapse from the weight of the snow piled on it and is eager to get home to try to prevent it, Vargas said.