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Thu, Mar 09, 2023

Snowed-in Residents Airlifted to Safety

Cali National Guard Aids Stranded San Bernadinians

Rare snowfall in southern California left members of some affected communities stranded, with rescue arriving in the form of Cali National Guard Black Hawks.

A late-February blizzard east of Los Angeles slammed the San Bernardino Mountain range, where thousands of people live in forest communities or recreational getaways. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after parts of the state were sacked in with more than 8 feet of snow, trapping some in their homes as crews worked around the clock to clear roads and highways. The paralyzed infrastructure led to cascading damage, too, as ordinarily small issues like single-home fires burned uncontrollably until hydrants were unburied and roads plowed.

The Lake Arrowhead region was in particular distress, with NG helos making their way over the area in their UH-60s to find homes and families in need of supply drops or evacuation. The California National Guard Joint Task Force Rattlesnake Unit earned their keep throughout the emergency, gaining some airtime over a wintry landscape for once - a rarity given their frequent deployment alongside Cal Fire. Normally, the Rattlesnake Unit works to clear backcountry vegetation amid wildland firefighting procedures.

For now, it seems the worst is through, though some officials say that residents may still be left without access down to the valley for a week, if not more. San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said “We’ve said we could push it out as far as two weeks but because of the state’s efforts and the equipment that’s coming in behind us we’re hoping to drop that down to a week.” 

While progress has been made with aerial support and food convoys making their way up limited mountain passageways, 13 counties lie under the state of emergency. “The enormity of this event is hard to comprehend,” said state Assemblyman Tom Lackey. “You know, we’re thinking ‘we’re in Southern California’, but yet we have had an inundation that has really, really generated a severe amount of anxiety, frustration and difficulty, especially to the victims and those who are actually trapped in their own home.” 



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