Snowed in lodge guests finally freed
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
UPDATE: 2/7/19 - Crews were finally able to reach those stuck at the Montecito Sequoia Lodge.
A path was cleared through the snow and everyone was able to drive out safely.
UPDATE: Everyone is still snowed in and electricity is now being powered at the lodge by diesel generators. The National Park and U.S. Forest Service crews are trying to remove the snow to get to them. Crews need to plow through 8 miles of snow and trees and it took 4 hours to go through just 1 mile. Crews are expected to make it to the lodge by tomorrow.
The latest storm system to hit the Central Valley and surrounding mountains is being blamed for leaving more than 100 people stranded at a lodge near Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.
"We came here to celebrate my husband's birthday," says Alejandra Arita, who traveled with her family from the San Fernando Valley to Montecito Sequoia Lodge on Friday. "He always wanted to experience the snow, activities in the snow."
Arita and her family arrived on Friday.
They went snowboarding and tubing.
Her toddler played in the snow for the first time.
"It was fun-- at first," Arita says.
But by Friday afternoon, more snow fell.
Even more fell on Saturday.
They planned to return home Sunday to watch their favorite football team, the New England Patriots, in the Super Bowl.
Instead, they and another 120 guests became stranded.
Highway 198 near the lodge is covered by up to five feet of snow.
"It ruined our trip. It was fun. Now it's not fun anymore," Arita said.
A manager at the lodge tells FOX26 News it has been waiting on the National Park Service to plow the roads.
But since there is power and food at the lodge, he says they were told it's not considered an emergency.
Arita and others are now spending time waiting in the main lodge.
"We are staying in a cabin, but the problem with the cabin is there are no restrooms inside. Just to go to the restroom it's become really dangerous. The snow is really deep," she says. "And from the roof, the snow looks like it's going to fall."
Arita says everyone has tried to be in good spirits, but it's tough.
Her mother-in-law ran out of medication.
"We are running out of clothes, pampers. Thank God I brought enough pampers for my daughter... this is just crazy," Arita said.
There's another foot of snow in the forecast by Tuesday morning.
Workers at the lodge are optimistic the road will be plowed Tuesday afternoon.
"We just want to go," Arita said.