Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

After a deadly snowfall, mountain communities begin digging in and preparing for another storm

After weeks of record snowfall that buried parts of the San Bernardino Mountains with up to 100 inches of snow, residents have only now begun clearing roads, reopening businesses, running errands and contacting snowbound neighbors.

But the respite may be short-lived as a new storm is forecast to hit the region on Friday morning and last into the weekend. The latest storm is expected to bring more rain than snow to the region, giving locals some optimism that an unprecedented weather recovery is within reach.

“I think people feel like there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and people aren’t as worried about the rain as they should be,” said Alexander Vallejos, who operates the Twin Peaks Farmers Market in Twin Peaks. “But I think a lot of us want to get back to a sense of normalcy.”

Caltrans snowplows have cleared most roads around mountain communities, but most county roads are still limited to one lane or blocked by snow.

San Bernardino County launched a new service to deliver medication refills to homes on Wednesday, in response to concerns that prescriptions were running out for elderly residents who were stuck in the snow. Requests for those deliveries can be made by calling the county’s snow response call center at (909) 387-3911.

In the mountain community of Crestline, Amber Dickey, 37, was busy earlier this week delivering groceries and running errands for her neighbors who were still struggling to get out of their homes because of the snow.

“Looks like we couldn’t lose the bowling alley. It’s nice not to have to lose another business,” Dickey said, pointing to a group of workers using a snowplow to clear the roof of a nearby building.

Several other buildings on the street collapsed, including Goodwin & Son’s Market, the only supermarket in the community.

“I was born and raised in Crestline. I have never seen Goodwin closed,” she said. “It’s sad because they have done a good job as our community supermarket. It’s sad to see your community have to try to recover from something like this.”

But recovery efforts may be set back by a new storm approaching from Northern California, increasing the risk of flooding in mountainous and foothill communities.

The incoming storm could dump up to 1.5 inches of rain on the communities of Lake Arrowhead, Running Springs and Crestline. Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Gorgonio could receive up to 3 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service in San Diego.

“The good thing is that the rain is better than the snow at this point, and they say that the snow level is not going to be (below) 9,000 feet,” said Rich Eagan, public information officer for the management team. San Bernardino County incidents. , that he is responding to the recent storms. He noted that all mountain communities are at elevations well below snow levels, most around 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

“We hope that whatever happens with the rain will melt some of the snow,” Eagen said, adding that flooding is not a major concern.

“I really don’t think the rains are going to create any major problems for us. I think it will help us, to be honest,” Eagen said.

He said the county has now cleared 98% of county roads with at least one lane open.

Others are not so optimistic. Ivan Arnold, director of Operation Mountain Strong, a grassroots relief effort that helps conduct search and rescue in the mountains, fears that the combination of piles of snow and rain is a recipe for disaster.

“There is an enormous amount of snow and the rain will really affect it. It’s going to turn it into sleet and we’re going to have significant flooding,” Arnold said.

He fears that the rains could inundate low-lying areas and exacerbate roofs already damaged by snow storms.

As the storm approaches, mountain residents continue to scramble to remove as much snow from their roads and property while the skies are clear.

Travis Lett has been shoveling snow from his 4-foot-deep pool in Crestline for the past four days.

He fears that there may be more power outages due to the rain.

“I’m almost done so I can go down the hill for supplies and a generator,” Lett said Thursday. “I don’t have much time before I get caught in the storm.”

Lett is confident that his house will survive the latest storm because it is on a hill, but he is worried about his neighbors at lower elevations.

“It’s going to flood the bottom of the city,” he said. “The water cannot escape (because) all the openings of the tanks are clogged with snow.”

For the past two weeks, Rudy Zamora, 62, had been struggling to clear 5- to 8-foot-tall piles of snow around his Crestline home. He was able to get free groceries from Goodwin and Son’s Market last week after the roof caved in and the market gave out what he could save.

But Zamora hasn’t been able to get his truck out of the driveway. His street was cleaned on Monday and he finally can see the road.

“I figured if I shoveled a little bit of snow every day, or a lot of it every day, I’d be able to keep up,” Zamora said, a little out of breath.

During a winter storm last year, Vallejos and his fiancée, Holly Walker, lost power at their home in Skyforest, a community southeast of Lake Arrowhead. They mistreated him for several days.

When the last storms came, they felt prepared, but they didn’t expect to be stranded for 12 days.

“It didn’t catch us off guard as much as it did with COVID. The feeling was that she kept going,” Vallejos said.

Although they have cleared the gutters around their house for the incoming rain, there is a feeling that it is just another problem on top of everything else.

“Obviously there is a bit of concern,” Vallejos said. “I feel like a lot of people right now are just trying to focus on people who need help in the community. There are still people who are covered in snow and can’t get supplies.”

The series of storms also brought snow in wild haven rancha non-profit wildlife sanctuary in Cedar Glen.

But neighbors have been helping Diane Dragotto Williams, the sanctuary’s founder, dig paths into the animal enclosures and make sure the structures don’t collapse. No money comes into the shelter because the business is closed and she depends on donations and the generosity of her neighbors.

Her neighbors have accompanied her while she feeds the animals. But some of the larger carnivores require special keepers to feed, Williams said, and that has been difficult to do when roads are blocked and keepers can’t get to the sanctuary.

“In general, every day, yes, they need to be fed, but not for all species,” Williams said.

Earlier in the week, a busload of inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection arrived in Cedar Glen and helped residents dig their driveways. Inmates also helped clean some of the sanctuary grounds, Williams said.

She is optimistic that the coming storm will be moderate.

“The snow is melting very slowly. I can see maybe a foot has gone down since it’s been hot the last few days,” she said. “So that’s encouraging.”