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San Bernardino Mountain community access remains limited

Caltrans reopens major freeways to San Bernardino Mountains for residents only
Caltrans reopens major freeways to San Bernardino Mountains for residents only 03:37

Caltrans has reopened major roads to the San Bernardino communities, once besieged by the historic amount of snowfall surrounding their towns.

Late Thursday, officials reopened Highways 38 and 330, without escorts, to residents only. Parts of Highway 18 reopened too, however, the stretch of the freeway from Running Springs to Big Bear is still closed. 

Residents said the clean-up effort noticeably kicked into high gear today, as county officials announced that crews cleared snow from 437 miles of road.

"Today I saw a bunch of bulldozers or front loaders loading snow into a shipping container to take off the mountain," said Crestline resident Cathleen Coomes. 

Access to San Bernardino Mountain communities was limited to emergency vehicles early Monday in some areas. Side roads in neighborhoods were still blocked by snow.

Despite the uptick in activity, Coomes, her neighbors and many others in mountain communities were disappointed in the length of time it took the local government to help during the historic snowstorm. 

"I think people feel like they had time to do better planning than what appeared to have taken place," said Coomes.

Running Springs resident Stephanie Milika'a echoed those sentiments. 

"The county, they just dropped the ball big time," she said. 

Milika'a said her husband had to plow their road in Running Springs so they could get down the hill and get to her chemotherapy treatments, frustrating the woman battling breast cancer. 

"I don't think anybody with a serious illness needed to be treated this way at all," said Milika'a. 

It snowed again overnight in the San Bernardino Mountains into Monday morning, and there were concerns about potential rainfall melting and freezing, causing more roadway problems, particularly on side streets that have yet to be plowed.

Snow piling up on rooftops remained a concern over possible cave-ins.

Some people remained trapped due to snow, but crews reportedly made contact with about 165 Crestline residents, and sheriff's deputies were helping people get to shelters and even delivered food to some residents. 

California Highway Patrol officers were turning away drivers on Highway 18 and Waterman Canyon Road Monday morning, even residents with identification and tire chains. Only essential and emergency vehicles were allowed through.

"A lot of the side streets and smaller streets people live on haven't been plowed yet," said Jerimy Frailey, a tow truck driver helping people get to their houses Monday. "So if people drive their cars on them, they will get stuck and it will make it even harder for us to get through."

Animal shelters are open for pets to temporarily be dropped off at. 

The governor's office said over the weekend that crews have removed about 7.2 million cubic yards of snow from state highways in San Bernardino County.

Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, which reportedly received about 9 feet of snow in the recent winter storm, opened from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.    

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