Some California residents remain trapped inside their homes after a winter storm dumped feet of snow across the Golden State, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue a state of emergency in 13 counties, including hard-hit San Bernardino County.
Authorities there had conducted almost 100 rescues by Wednesday evening, San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey said in a news conference, though authorities have not learned of any serious injuries or deaths.
“We’re responding to medical calls. We’re responding to fires in these trapped vehicles. We are going to people’s houses where they’ve had trees through their houses or some sort of roof collapse and we are evacuating them to our evacuation shelters,” Munsey said.
Just over 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power early Thursday, days after the first round of winter storms hit California, according to PowerOutage.us. And while the state is getting a brief reprieve from the snow through the end of the week, another system is expected to move into Northern California this weekend.
Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County and 12 others – among them Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties – late Wednesday, with his office saying in a statement that a significant number of state personnel had responded to support San Bernardino County.
By Thursday morning, the Office of Emergency Services had deployed the California National Guard to help dig out snowbound communities in the mountains, with a spokesperson saying they had departed Fresno and were expected to arrive by midday.
It could take a week to 10 days to dig out the mountain communities hampered by the heavy snow, officials warned in a news conference Wednesday. Mountain residents were still unable to access roads Wednesday, per fire department spokesperson Eric Sherwin. The county has about 500 miles of tight, winding roads throughout the mountain areas that need to be plowed, county Public Works Director Brendon Biggs said.
Many parts of California were buried under a significant amount of snow in recent days, and some places received more than 100 inches in the last week, according to the National Weather Service, leading authorities to warn residents about possible avalanches.
Residents in a three-story apartment building in Olympic Valley had to be evacuated after it was struck by an avalanche Tuesday evening, engulfing the bottom two stories, the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. The building’s occupants were uninjured.
Huntington Lake in the Sierra Nevada saw 144 inches of snow, per a report from the Fresno County Office of Emergency Services, which reported 10 to 12 feet of snow near China Peak, leading to the closure of Highway 168.
In Southern California, 106 inches of snow were recorded since February 22 at Mount Baldy, outside of Los Angeles. Of that 106 inches, 29 fell in the past two days, according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward, while the other 77 inches fell late last week and through the weekend.
CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Cheri Mossburg and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.