A San Bernardino Mountains resident is rebuilding her community
A rare blizzard pummeled the San Bernardino Mountains in February, dumping record snow in the communities of Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Crestline.
Cassandra Cymbal and her family were trapped in their Crestline home for two weeks.
"My mother-in-law was with us at the time and my husband — we were rotating shoveling, and we had a neighbor come, help us dig out, too," she said. "The fear of something happening for us was about five to seven days," she added, "which is the time it took us to dig out of the driveway."
She went from relief to devastation.
"There were so many houses that had severe structural damage," she said. "I've never seen anything like that."
Cymbal said there were also miraculous stories, but those showed how desperately people's homes need to be inspected.
"One in particular, she was out on the deck with her daughter shoveling that day," Cymbal said, "and then, that night, their deck completely collapsed."
Cymbal decided to put her skills and the staff at her design and construction firm, Bless This Place, to work to serve her community. She put the word out that she would offer help — everything from engineering inspections to construction, permits and filling out insurance claims — at little to no cost.
"So I just found it devastating, but, again, I just felt like a drive to — I need to do my part to fix this, you know," she said. "Like, what can we do to help bring this community back and build better?"
Cymbal at times considered the situation overwhelming and she said she hoped that more construction companies would answer the call to help. But touring homes and seeing the damage first hand is the toughest part.
"It was just really hard to see all of those homes and those families living there with like babies, small kids," she said. "Like, you know, you're going into their home and it's just — I just can't imagine."
With more storms pounding the community and more on the way, she is afraid that more damage will happen.
"A little bit of snow, a little bit of rain can be, you know, what sets off a chain reaction to what was already kind of hanging on by a thread," Cymbal said.
She wants the people in who live, work and those who lost loved ones to know they’re not forgotten and that the community will get through this together.
"We see you," Cymbal said. "We are here for you." She added: "We love you."