Residents stranded by snowfall in southern California could be stuck for another week.
San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus’s estimate was an improvement in the outlook, which was previously forecast for up to two weeks.
“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,” he said on Friday.
While progress had been made in the last few days, firefighters have had to access emergency scenes using snowcats.
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“The enormity of this event is hard to comprehend,” California state Assemblyman Tom Lackey said, according to The Associated Press. “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.”
Following the rare blizzard east of Los Angeles, in the San Bernardino Mountains, residents have called for help getting food and medicine.
A man in Crestline wrote a desperate message in the snow.
“Help us!!” he urged.
“People are panicking left and right. We’ve had roofs starting to cave in. Houses are blowing up because of gas leaks and catching on fire. And these are real things that are happening here,” Michelle Calkins, of Lake Arrowhead, told Fox 11.
Frustrated residents in the area have reported not seeing a snowplow for days
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“We’re going to dig you out and we are coming,” Dicus promised. “We are making tremendous progress. I saw this from the air yesterday. The roads are being cleared.”
Officials said crews have been dealing with such tremendous depths of snow that removal required front-end loaders and dump trucks rather than regular plows.
California Department of Transportation official Jim Rogers said workers have removed more than 2.6 million cubic yards of snow from state highways during 24-hour shifts.
All highways leading up to the mountains have opened intermittently since last weekend to residents and convoys of trucks with supplies
However, downed power lines have complicated efforts to reopen smaller roads. More snowcats were being brought in, along with a California National Guard crew.
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California Gov. Newsom declared states of emergency in San Bernardino and 12 other counties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.