Snowcats, shovels and good will were the tools used when coming to the rescue of residents in the San Bernardino Mountains during a historic snowstorm the second week of March. After the winter storm took aim at snow battered Southern California, SoCalGas issued a Mutual Assistance request for help assisting customers in that area and, in response, SDG&E sent a 14-person crew up north.
“With record snowfall in the San Bernardino Mountains, our team was proud to help our neighbors,” said SDG&E Emergency Services Manager, Mona Freels. “We provided two snowcats and a track’n’go system, assisted SoCalGas by transporting crews and investigating potential gas leaks, and helped Cal Fire and San Bernardino Fire to clear roads, conduct welfare checks and deliver food and water to residents in need.”
“From the moment SDG&E crews arrived it was easy to see why our support was needed,” said Sr. Safety Advisor, Isaac Ibay, who served as Field Safety Officer. “There was so much snow on the mountain that they ran out of places to put it. On day 1, one of the crews headed up to a telecom site where there were massive amounts of snow blocking the access gate. The team made quick work of obstacles while keeping safety in mind.” Ibay continued by saying: “I couldn’t be prouder to work for a company that understands that both safety and productivity are not mutually exclusive. It was a pleasure to work alongside such professionals!”
During the worst of the storms, more than 100 inches of snow fell in the mountains near the Lake Arrowhead area, adding to the mounds of snow that were already blocking off roads and hindering efforts to deliver vital supplies and medical aid to people trapped in their homes.
"This mutual assistance deployment was one of the most fulfilling points of my career,” explained Electric Regional Operations Construction Manager, Dave Martinez, who served as one of the Utility Field Commanders. “I expected to provide a service to our sister utility however it ended up being much more than that. It turned out to be a humanitarian service to people who were in desperate need of assistance. I couldn't be prouder of how our employees went the extra mile to help people in the Rimforest region. The word ‘no’ was not in their vocabulary and they took every extra measure to provide the much-needed help the locals needed."
SDG&E was among a variety of state and local agencies that sent crews to assist in the efforts and in some cases our crews waded through waist-high snow using snowshoes to hike into remote areas.
“The team worked cohesively in addition to going above and beyond the call of duty,” said Serena Hill, Electric Regional Operations Safety Center Team Lead. “Our team stayed on course and worked efficiently. Extra measures were taken to ensure that safety was a top priority for everyone involved. No short cuts were taken even in the treacherous conditions.”
“The team went above and beyond to serve the community and they did a tremendous job helping our sister company SoCalGas,” said Sr. Emergency Readiness Program Advisor, Denny Neville. “All of our crews were released and headed home on Friday, March 10. We are so proud of them and thank them for a job well done!”