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County declares local emergency

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Mendocino County YouTube channel.
Mendocino County YouTube channel.
Lt. Quincy Cromer, of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, speaks about Search and Rescue operations during the weekend's heavy snow.

The Board of Supervisors ratified a local emergency this morning, effective February 21st. The county’s office of emergency services, led by CEO Darcie Antle and Sheriff Matt Kendall, declared the emergency on March 2, but Mendocino County’s emergency status has not been confirmed by the state and federal government.

The prolonged storms have caught many residents off-guard, with insufficient supplies for two weeks of heavy snow. And, while the sheriff’s Search and Rescue teams conducted a number of successful missions, Administrative Lt. Quincy Cromer, who is also the Search and Rescue coordinator, told the board that after several welfare checks, rescues and evacuations, both of the department’s rescue vehicles broke down in the field.

After the meeting, Sheriff Matt Kendall told us that the 40-year-old SnoCat does get checked over twice a year by the county garage, but he suspects its age caught up to it. He said the utility terrain vehicle was under a tremendous amount of strain by putting tracks on it instead of wheels, which meant when it broke down, it could only go backwards. He is considering asking for a grant to purchase a more modern utility terrain vehicle that’s designed to run with tracks and has a cab to keep rescuees warm. He added that CalFire has made two caterpillars and drivers available, and he also has two skid steers, which are small pieces of heavy equipment that can work with a variety of attachments. They are all staged at Howard Forest, and one of the skid steers was used for a welfare check on Monday.

This morning, Mendocino County participated in “Operation Hay Drop” with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, CalFire, and the Coast Guard, to drop hay to starving cattle in the north county. Kendall plans to ask the California Office of Emergency Services, or CalOES, for reimbursement, but says the county might have to “eat the cost” of the airdrops. The ranchers are paying for the hay.

Bekkie Emery, Director of Mendocino County Social Services, said that her department is extending the vouchers for two evacuees who are in motel rooms, and is coordinating with the Ukiah Food Bank and volunteer fire departments to make supplies available to people who are running out.

Antle told the Board that her office is asking the Governor’s Office and CalOES to be included in the state’s declaration of emergency, which would make more resources available to the county.

Sarah Reith came to Mendocino County in 2008 and worked as a reporter and freelancer, joining KZYX as a community news reporter in 2017. She became the KZYX News Director in March, 2023.