The winter storms have been blessing Southern California with rainfall that is greatly needed and appreciated. The major storm which rolled in early Thursday delivered the rain that was promised and a lot more that we didn’t expect. The Pineapple Express or newly named Atmospheric River, brought rivers of rain and hurricane like winds that brought down power lines, sparked minor fires, flooded streets, homes and businesses, overtopped streams and dry creeks and crashed down trees into many homes and businesses throughout our mountain communities. Although we were given Wind Warnings, Flood Warnings and Travel Warnings the shock of the severity of this storm took most of us by surprise.
- This is “The Great Valentine’s Day Storm”:
- 50 downed trees, 30 into structures and power poles.
- Flooded homes and businesses with one example of opening the back door of a home in order to allow the flood waters to flow through the home.
- Wind damaged structures at the Big Bear Airport
- Power loss to hundreds of Big Bear homes and businesses
- Roofs stripped of shingles and tiles leading to, in some cases, severe leaks.
- Flooded streets with many stranded cars in water too deep.
- Roads and Highways closed
- Highway 18 closed between Running Springs and Big Bear has several sections that need emergency repair and CalTrans has authorized $2,500,000.00 in emergency repairs.
- Highway 38 closed for repairs and now the focus of attention for a Friday night reopen.
- Highway 18 to the High Desert, now stressed as the only access to Big Bear as more snow storms approach the mountains.
- Countless calls for help to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, Big Bear Lake Public Works, California Highway Patrol, Big Bear City Community Services plus CalTrans workers and District 8 personnel. Not to mention nearly 60 calls to the Big Bear Fire Department for help and one reported swift water rescue.
Here are the positive things Which the Great Valentine’s Day storm brought us. This winter will take a bite out of our decade old draught and has increased the lake level by 3 feet. Our normally parched forest has been given a good drink and our groundwater supplies will be replenished, a big plus for our wells and pumps. In addition, these times allow all of us to share an experience and, where possible lend a hand to others. And of course we have to count our blessings as we should reflect on the pain being endured by our fellow mountain dwellers in the town of Paradise.