Tropical Storm Hilary’s Mountain Area Destruction Extended To Woman Perishing

While Tropical Storm Hilary manifested as mostly medium-intensity rain in the urbanized valley areas in the western, central and eastern portions of lower San Bernardino Valley on Sunday, August 20, the impact of the storm was more pronounced in certain mountain and desert areas.
Flooding and road washouts resulted in what is believed to have been at least one death and a handful of injuries. At certain spots on roadways along Routes 18, 38 and 330 leading to and from the San Bernardino Mountains, conditions could have resulted in further fatalities but did not, in no little due to the rapid response of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and San Bernardino County Department of Public Works.
At various spans along Highway 38 from Jenks Lake Road to Lakewood Road, at a spot on Glass Road near Seven Oaks and Highway 38, on Radford Camp Road in the Seven Oaks environs, on Oak Glen Road from Harris Road to Casa Blanca Avenue and on Potato Canyon Road in the Oak Glen district, substantial portions of roadway collapsed, such that motorists and their vehicles transiting those areas would have been likely to tumble downward dozens, scores or even as much as hundreds of feet, risking injury or death. The San Bernardino County Department of Public Works, the sheriff’s department, the county fire department and Caltrans acted with alacrity in closing down those roads.One woman apparently lost her life when the trailer in the Seven Oaks area she was staying in was hit with a cascade of water, mud, gravel, rocks and debris and was torn off its foundation and carried downstream. Neither the trailer nor the woman nor her body had been located by press time.
The destructive force of the downpour, which brought with it 14 inches of rain in some areas in less than 24 hours, was felt on both Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, with heavy damage to moored boats, some 41 of which were inundated in Lake Arrowhead alone, with 21 of those swamped and ten sunk.
There were no reports of fatalities on the water at either location, as the owners of watercraft refrained from setting sail in the face of the strong winds, heavy rainfall, and rising and rough water levels.
The Arrowhead Lake Association on August 18 notified boat owners that the incoming storm was anticipated to be uncommonly rough and for them to secure their craft.
On Monday, word came from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department that a 74-year-old woman in “the Seven Oaks Resort area was overwhelmed by rising river water and her residence was swept away from its foundation.”
Efforts to trace her plummet and that of her trailer down the rough terrain toward the headwaters of the Santa Ana River were unsuccessful. While the remnants of at least three trailers that had washed away were encountered by a search and rescue party, none of them proved to be the trailer in question.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s department identified the missing woman as Christie Rockwood. As her remains have yet to turn up, her death has not been confirmed.
-Mark Gutglueck

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