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23 June, 2024
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At least 12 snowed-in residents found dead in California mountain community

Rescue teams continue to dig people's homes out of the snow after back to back winter storms in the last couple of weeks

Source: Wall Street Journal

At least 12 people have died in Southern California, authorities said, after fierce winter storms lashed the state, burying normally warm areas in snow.

Only one of those deaths, a person who died in a car accident, was classified as weather-related, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigations into some of the other deaths continue, said Mara Rodriguez, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s department.

Authorities are investigating only the deaths of people who weren’t under medical care or in a hospice or if it wasn’t known whether they were under a doctor’s care, Ms. Rodriguez said. It can take some time to determine a storm-related death.

Since the last week of February, some California mountain communities have received historic amounts of snowfall from blizzards and back-to-back storms. A four-decades-old state record for snowpack has nearly been broken, according to the state’s water resources department.

The storms left many residents without power for days. San Bernardino County set up food banks, temporary trash sites and opened shelters. Officials are still clearing roadways and digging out communities, according to the sheriff’s office. Workers have cleared snow from more than 488 miles of roads.

“We continue to respond to calls for service for our mountain residents,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

A crew from the sheriff’s department did an aerial reconnaissance looking for avalanches on the state highway from Snow Valley Mountain Resort to Big Bear Dam. They found evidence of one and halted snow-removal efforts.

A moderate storm is expected to hit San Bernardino in the coming days, authorities said.

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