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“When will help arrive?”: Snowed-in Southern California residents plead for help

Christine Foster

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — With nine feet of snow piled up outside her home in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, Christine Foster said Monday that she and her 76-year-old father remain trapped in their three-story cabin where their supply of food is running low.

For 14 days, Foster said she, her dad and her dog, “Riley” have been hunkered down, close to their fireplace. She told ABC News that the main entrance to her unit is blocked by snow that has turned to ice.

“You can’t even shovel the stuff. It’s just rock hard ice. Shovel’s just easily break,” Foster said in a telephone interview from her home in Lake Arrowhead, which she said is only about an hour drive from downtown Los Angeles.

On Feb. 23, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the San Bernardino Mountains, the first in more than three decades. The weather service initially forecast a snowfall of about five feet at elevations as low as 5,000 feet.

Foster said her cabin sits at the 5,200-foot level, where more than 100 inches of snow has fallen in just the last week.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared states of emergency in 13 counties across the state, including San Bernardino.

“We’re just not use to this kind of snowstorm,” Foster said. “It’s historic up here. We’ve never had this much snow in such a short time.”

She said that while the street in front of her cabin was plowed, the plowing created a 12-foot snow berm that his blocking her driveway, where her car is covered in snow.

Before the blizzard hit, Foster said she stocked up on groceries and bottled water. But on Monday, she said her supply was dwindling as she took inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards. She said she had three boxes of protein bars, two swordfish steaks, four lean pork chops, three frozen Lean Cuisine dinners and is down to tap water.

Adding to her anxiety, are chronic migraines she’s been suffering from since her medication ran out several days ago.

“None of us know when help is going to come to our front doors. That’s what’s scary,” Foster said.

She said her father, a cancer survivor, suffers from a heart arrhythmia. She said her 75-year-old neighbor is a diabetic and another neighbor has leukemia.

“I mean, how many people are going to be found dead in their cabins because help didn’t get to them,” Foster said.

Many residents in surrounding communities said they are enduring similar circumstances. They said they are in “survival mode.”

Some local residents were so desperate for help that a helicopter from ABC Los Angeles station KABC captured video footage on Friday of a large “Help us!!” sign written in the snow near Lake Gregory in the community of Crestline.

Officials said 80% of county roads were passable as of Monday. But residents complained that many roads had just one lane plowed.

Many residents said they managed to dig out and drive down the mountain for supplies only to be prevented from driving back up the mountain by the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said it is limiting access to highways to only emergency crews and food trucks delivering needed supplies.

“It sucks it really sucks. I just want to get to my house. It’s awful,” Eddie Loya of Crestline told KABC. “I have been here three years and I have never seen anything like this.”

Drew Adzovich of the community of Running Springs said he has been shoveling out for 11 days now and remains stuck at home.

“I’ve been putting myself out, putting in like three to four hours a day,” Adzovich told KABC. “That’s not the best thing I would say.”

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