California has deployed the National Guard to help residents trapped in their homes under six feet of snow
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in 13 counties on Wednesday after a severe snowstorm trapped people in their homes and knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents.
The governor also deployed the National Guard to work with the Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol and Caltrans to assist with emergency relief efforts in affected counties, including Los Angeles, Nevada, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara.
In San Bernardino County, many people are trapped in their homes for days because of the unusually powerful storm, which produced as much as 7 feet (2.13 m) of snow in some places. Images posted on social media show houses with open doors facing solid walls of snow.
The highly unusual weather forced the closure of Highway 18, a major thoroughfare, and motorists were only allowed to use police and transportation escorts. With food and water supplies running low, residents have been begging Newsom for help.
“Roofs are collapsing everywhere, people need help and rescueLake Arrowhead resident Miyah Nelson told local news station KTLA. “All stores are running out of food and water. The gas stations hardly have any petrol,” she said.
State agencies are coordinating to get additional snow plows and road crews, with San Bernadino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe reassuring residents Wednesday that “the plowing of the roads continues 24/7.” Local staff may have never experienced such extreme weather, given Southern California’s typically sunny climate. Known as the location of the Disneyland theme park, Anaheim hadn’t seen snow since 1882.
Officials are reportedly opening two shelters for destitute or stranded residents and working to guide energy companies into the area. About 100,000 residents were without power on Wednesday.
The governor’s emergency declaration allows selected agencies to override local authorities and ignore normal spending and procurement restrictions lest bureaucracy interfere with the time-sensitive storm response.
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