Authorities Find 13 Dead in California Snowstorm as Newsom Returns from Trip to Sunny Mexico


The grim reality of the snow that buried the San Bernardino Mountain of California is settling in as the death toll has been released to the public.

Thus far, 13 people have been found dead in the aftermath of massive storms, according to KTLA-TV.

Officials noted one – a car crash victim – is directly weather-related, with four deaths recorded in hospitals or hospices and eight others for which details are not yet available.

While residents of the mountain communities were fighting the elements to survive, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was lambasted for taking a trip to Mexico.

Newsom’s office said that from Wednesday of last week until his return Sunday, Newsom was in Mexico, according to Fox News.

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“The Governor was on a personal trip in Baja California. He returned to the state on Sunday, meeting with emergency personnel at the State Operations Center and receiving a briefing on current conditions,” Newsom’s office said.

Whatever Newsom was doing, three days later he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night, according to KTVU-TV.

Newsom’s office said he experienced mild symptoms and would work remotely. State rules call for a five-day self-isolation period after testing positive.

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As Newsom sits in self-isolation, residents of the mountains have little hope their situation will get better soon.

“There’s going to be a lot more,” Megan Vazquez, a volunteer, told KTLA, referring to the deaths. “It’s been very cold here. It’s been below freezing, so if somebody didn’t have electricity or gas to heat their home, they may have frozen to death. I mean, it’s shocking.”

Crestline resident Liberty Guerrero said the number is likely to increase, according to the Los Angeles Times.

She said she knew of three people who died last week and said Cedarpines Park community “is a big elderly community.” She also noted that they “live in the boonies, and nobody’s gone there yet.”

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“They’re going to find more [dead],” Guerrero said.

Rochelle Dafris, a Crestline volunteer related the experience of one family.

“When their deck collapsed, it covered their exit out of their home and it fell on their cars. So one of the things she said is, ‘My house is cracking.’”

“We are mountain strong and we’ve always stuck together through thick and thin, but this is far beyond us. We need FEMA. We need help,” Dafris said.

Another storm that could bring either rain or snow has area residents fearful.

“There are concerns with rain and snow in the forecast. There’s a lot of snow on the ground and that could cause some ice damming and increase weight loads on roofs,” Justin Correll of the Colton Fire Department said.

As of Friday, more than 9,000 people in central California had been evacuated from their homes due to rains and flooding, according to The Associated Press.

Heather Wingfield of Soquel, said families were trapped after Bates Creek flooded Main Street.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “Hopefully no one has a medical emergency.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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