Newsom declares state of emergency for counties impacted by severe winter storms

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Thursday, March 2, 2023
Two palms trees are backdropped by snow-covered mountains in Hesperia, Calif., Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
Two palms trees are backdropped by snow-covered mountains in Hesperia, Calif., Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong-KGO

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. -- Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency Wednesday to help California counties impacted by the recent severe winter storms.

The proclamation will help with disaster response and relief for these counties:

  • Amador
  • Kern
  • Los Angeles
  • Madera
  • Mariposa
  • Mono
  • Nevada
  • San Bernardino
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Sierra
  • Sonoma
  • Tulare

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According to a press release, the governor has also activated the State Operations Center to help with county-led emergency response efforts, especially in San Bernardino County.

Residents are dealing with as much as 7 feet (2 meters) of snow, and sheriffs' authorities have conducted 17 rescue operations to help off-roaders and skiers. Emergency crews are trying to reach residents who need assistance.

In Crestline, the entire roof of Goodwin and Sons Market collapsed Wednesday as safety inspectors were onsite checking up on reported damage. Officials raced to salvage food that residents sorely need from its shelves.

Rowe said no one was injured.

MORE: Palisades Tahoe reaches 500 inches of snow this season as resorts close for blizzard conditions

"We know that roofs are starting to collapse," she said. "There are other businesses that will likely be affected by the weight of the snow."

The county has set up a hotline for residents dealing with issues like frozen pipes, roof problems and food shortages. The San Bernardino Mountains are a major tourism and recreation destination but also home to a large year-round population in small cities and communities around lakes and scattered along winding roads. About 80,000 people live either part- or full-time in the communities affected, said David Wert, a county spokesman.

Reprieve was on the way as the mountain community continued to dig out, with much of California expecting drier weather on Thursday. A key mountain section of Interstate 5, a major north-south highway, reopened Wednesday afternoon following closures due to snowy conditions, while blizzard warnings expired in the Sierra Nevada further north.

Anthony Cimino, a 51-year-old retiree, said he's been snowed in for about a week in the mountain community of Running Springs. He finally managed to clear his decks, but not for long.

MORE: Here's a look at what the Sierra faced as snow buried homes, cars

"I woke up this morning and there was another two-and-a-half feet on them," he said. "It was kind of like Groundhog Day."

Residents of these towns are grappling with so much snow they're running out of space to put it; clearing one area adds heaps to another. Grocery shelves had run bare of some items, like bread, and were running low on eggs and milk Tuesday. Cars remained buried under snow and roads closed.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.