Big Bear Valley, CA — Last week’s storms were epic, in that we received five feet of snow in the Big Bear Valley, prompting a state of emergency to be declared by the County of San Bernardino. Though we had a beautiful, sunny weekend, many of us (if not most of us) have gone hours or even days without power, phone, cable, Internet, water and transportation.
In terms of power outages, which have affected the Big Bear Valley since last Monday, Bear Valley Electric has been restoring electric service block by block, area by area, and, as of yesterday, has the mutual aid assistance of crews from Southern California Edison, which were dispatched from Victorville at 6am Sunday morning, and, five hours later, given poor road conditions and heavy traffic congestion [see photo below], arrived here in the Big Bear Valley. After a week of high winds, heavy rains, intense snowfall, and countless downed trees and power lines, many neighborhoods are still without power. Though crews have been working round the clock, as of the latest from Bear Valley Electric’s Operations Manager Ken Markling, the following are still without electric service: a section of lower Moonridge, a portion of Boulder Bay, a section of Knickerbocker Road, part of Brownie Lane, Red Ant Hill near Edgemoor Road, and some other, smaller outages. Per Markling last night, “The list of outages is getting smaller, and they will stay on it until we get it done.” Road conditions, congestion and deep snow are hampering efforts to restore power to all customers quickly. (Update on power outages as of noon: Per Operations Supervisor John Dykesten, the Brownie Lane area had power restored Sunday night. As of noon, crews are working at the following: Moonridge, Boulder Bay, 800 block of Knickerbocker Road in Big Bear Lake. BVES will next release a crew to the Red Ant Hill area. Isolated power outages are still taking place in portions of Big Bear City and the Whispering Forest area. Dykesten asks that customers not put themselves in harm’s way by entering crews’ work area; also, please know that BVES crews have been working non-stop and please allow them to continue doing so, by addressing questions to BVES at 866-4678, rather than their employees in the field. Thank you.) Emergency personnel from CalFire arrived on Saturday afternoon, to assist the Big Bear Valley in the clearing of roads and the removal of downed trees. We are also told that Bear Mountain Resort has allowed fire personnel to use their snowmobiles to give firefighters access to areas in need. And, just another note regarding utilities, residents should be sure that gas vents are cleared, to eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Heating and cooking equipment are potential sources of carbon monoxide, as are vehicles and generators in enclosed spaces.
There is no school for Bear Valley Unified School District students today, so this makes for a third consecutive snow day here in the Big Bear Valley. School district personnel will determine snow days on a day-by-day basis, and will make their decision to hold school if streets are clear enough to allow for the safe passage of school buses. Update: No school on Tuesday, as BVUSD has called another Snow Day for January 26.
In the meantime, Big Bear Middle School continues to operate as an emergency shelter, since opening to the public on Friday evening. We are told that as many as 60 people spent the night at the shelter over the weekend; the shelter is staffed by volunteers and Red Cross personnel, and provides basic provisions and refreshments, as well as cots and blankets. Big Bear Middle School will remain open as an emergency shelter, and is located at 41275 Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear Lake; the western entrance at Jeffries Road is open.
On Saturday, the California Highway Patrol led an emergency convoy up the mountain, with trucks providing food and fuel. Per Big Bear Lake City Manager Jeff Mathieu, more fuel is coming to the Big Bear Valley today. (For those bermed in, local markets are open and have food. So, in addition to supermarkets Vons and Stater Bros., groceries are available today at Easy’s General Store in Sugarloaf, Community Market in Big Bear City, and Sol Food Market in the Alpine Center in Big Bear Lake.)
Given road conditions and the CalTrans-issued restriction to buses and trucks on mountain roads), we have not received mail delivery from off the mountain since Wednesday, however all local post offices will be open today.
And, as for our roads, they do remain under an R2 chain requirement, meaning that all two-wheel drive vehicles must have chains on; four-wheel drives with snow tires on all four wheels are required to carry chains. At this time [9am Monday], Highway 38 is closed to downbound traffic, and only residents with proof of Big Bear Valley or Angelus Oaks residency will be allowed up the mountain. Both portions of Highway 18, both the front way and eastbound to the desert, are open to downbound traffic. However, upbound travel on both portions of Highway 18 will only be allowed to Big Bear Valley residents, so be sure to carry proof of residency. (This information will be updated on the KBHR Big Bear Road Conditions page as it changes, but will first be broadcast on 93.3 FM so stay tuned.) Many local roads are treacherous, so proceed with caution, especially as berms have created blind intersections and many residential streets have only been plowed enough to allow one vehicle at a time. Crews continue to work round the clock on snow removal—be it the City of Big Bear Lake’s Public Works crews, County snowplows and subcontractors in non-incorporated portions of the Big Bear Valley, and CalTrans crews on our state highways. The first priority for snow plowing is to allow for the safe passage of emergency vehicles on major roads, plowing of secondary streets follows, and then berm reduction.
Community notices and cancellations
MARTA is running limited fixed bus route transportation services today, from the Village in Big Bear Lake to the Sugarloaf Fire Station and Erwin Lake; Dial-a-Ride and off-the-mountain buses are also running, per the MARTA website.
The Big Bear Senior Center is closed, so no food distribution this afternoon (at center or at Community Church by the Lake) and tonight’s Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District Advisory Commission meeting has been canceled. This afternoon’s free H1N1 flu vaccine clinic will be rescheduled. Rec and Park has also canceled basketball for this evening.
Bear Mountain is closed today, though Snow Summit is open will honor lift tickets and Bear Mountain-only passes.
The City Council of Big Bear Lake is still planning to hold their regular meeting at 6:30pm this evening in Hofert Hall.
The Board of Commissioners of the Department of Water and Power will not hold their regular Tuesday meeting on Tuesday.
The Amgen Tour of California volunteer luncheon for this week will be rescheduled for early February.
The Big Bear zoo received ample community support yesterday, so the “pathway crisis” has been solved, the animals have food and water, and the Friends of the Moonridge Zoo thank volunteers for their assistance.
Lutheran Social Services has canceled all classes this week, through January 29. The LSS office will be open daily, weather permitting; call ahead for information at 866-5070.
The County’s Food Handler Testing opportunity, to have taken place at the Rec and Park offices on Wednesday, has been canceled.