San Bernardino Mountains residents face new concerns after snow

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Snow is seen at Big Bear Lake, January 2023. Photo by Shutterstock.

Rain, mixed with sleet and some snow, is falling today across the San Bernardino Mountains, making for a slushy mess. The area is still reeling after feet upon feet of snow, which fell over the last couple of weeks. Many still remain trapped in their homes, and rescuers and volunteers continue to go door-to-door to check on the welfare of residents.

“It's terribly sad to see these people with so many huge needs,” says Megan Vasquez, volunteer and resident of Crestline. “We all want to try and do more, and be more helpful, but at a certain point, there's only so much people can do to help.”

Even if one is able to dig out from the snow, many in the Crestline area are still without power or access to food. Vasquez has been volunteering to distribute canned goods and over-the-counter medicine, but also to provide an unexpected service.

“A lot of people are just coming in for a conversation or a hug … because they've been so stranded. The first day getting out, they just want to tell somebody their story.” 

Rain is in the forecast now until Wednesday evening, which may lead to catastrophic consequences, depending on how much and how quickly it falls. But also, how prepared individual residents are.

“If people didn't clear their roofs of snow, that water could add exponential weight to an already strained roof,” says Ryan Orr, editor of the Big Bear Grizzly. “The last rainstorm, just a few days ago, wasn't as bad as it could have been. … This one could be.”

Local, county, and state government officials have been criticized for their response to the snowstorm of a few weeks ago. More than a dozen people have died in the aftermath of the storm, though officials are only attributing one death directly to the storm. 

“It depends highly upon what your definition of that would be,” explains Orr. “I personally think that a lot of it could have had to do with access … because several of those folks that were found could have had no access to medication.”

The National Weather Service forecasts heavy rain for the Crestline area over the next 24 hours, with possibly three to four inches. The forecast for Big Bear Lakes is one to two inches of rain, with wind as high as 40 miles per hour, and snow at the higher elevations.