Madera, Mariposa counties declare state of emergency due to weather

There's so much snow on the roads, Madera County has employed several contractors to help with snow removal.

Jessica Harrington Image
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Madera, Mariposa counties declare state of emergency due to weather
Since Friday, the foothills and mountains of Madera County have been battered by a historic winter storm.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local state of emergency has been declared in both Mariposa and Madera counties due to weather conditions.

Officials say the storm system has caused power outages, downed trees and dangerous driving conditions.

The snow and rain also give the potential for debris and mud flow from burn scars.

"I've lived in Fresno since 1968 and I don't think we've seen anything like these storms, in recent memory," said Assemblymember Jim Patterson.

Recent storms have brought hazardous conditions to Madera County including heavy snow has packed roads, downed trees and caused widespread power outages.

The snow and rain also give the potential for debris and mud flow from burn scars.

"The state of California is standing by to help the counties to reach the point if they need additional resources or additional funding," Patterson said.

Wednesday afternoon, Madera County seemed prepared to ask for that help as Sheriff Tyson Pogue announced he would proclaim a local state of emergency.

County Administrative Office Jay Varney says while the emergency is a good thing, it may not bring heavy equipment to the area because resources are stretched thin across the state.

"The disaster declaration is more our way of saying to the Governor through OES, 'Hey, look, we're having some serious impacts here and we're going to have some serious needs for either equipment, people, overtime, damage to roads,'" Varney said.

In the meantime, public works crews from the Valley have been sent to the mountains.

Eight independent contractors were brought in to help with snow removal, and more are on the way.

Thousands of PG&E workers are also on the ground trying to restore power.

Back to back storms have made work for the crews challenging.

The storm Tuesday night doubled the number of customers without power in Mariposa, Madera and Merced Counties from 10,000 to 20,000.

"What's been challenging is you'll get that work done and then our crews will be performing inspection on that work and then the next wave comes and drops another tree on that line or causes additional damage on that line," Central Valley PG&E Spokesperson Denny Boyles said.

Electric workers and vegetation workers are trying to take advantage of the sunshine before another storm slows their progress.

"We have the resources there we're just working in very challenging conditions trying to get the power restored," Boyles said.

Officials are reassuring residents they are working around the clock.

County officials are asking people not to come to the mountains and play in the snow right now.

They said there's far too much heavy equipment in the area right now and too much important work that needs to be done.

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