San Bernardino Officials Acknowledge Missteps After Tragic Weather Event

Thirteen bodies have been discovered in the mountains of San Bernardino after massive storms buried homes and roads beneath feet of snow. Officials say just one of the deaths has a “direct correlation to the weather,” but some volunteers expressed skepticism. As County News reported, residents had been sending out desperate pleas due a lack of food, medication, and heat.  

Local authorities are facing questions about their response to the storms. Many residents say they felt abandoned by the county.

This was an unprecedented event — the first blizzard the county was forced to contend with. The front-end plows that crews typically use were no match for the rapidly falling snow. And because other regions were also hit by severe storms, the county says it wouldn’t have been able to get equipment from other jurisdictions.

Nevertheless, officials acknowledge there were missteps. 

“Hindsight is always 20/20,” San Bernardino County Chief Executive Leonard Hernandez said during a briefing. “Even though I believe the team did an amazing job of mobilizing before, if the National Weather Service ever issues a blizzard warning again, we will take a different approach immediately.”

“You have our commitment as an organization that there are a lot of lessons that we’re going to learn from this,” he added.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for 34 counties, including San Bernardino. On Friday, President Joe Biden approved Newsom's request for a Presidential Emergency Declaration