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What has Nevada County learned from the storms and how can they help residents

So far, $20 million of damage has been reported on private property after some were snowed in without power for 10 days.

NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. — “We are considering leaving but we want to stay,” said Jennifer Heatherman a Nevada County resident.

Nevada County residents are faced with a tough decision after many were without power or able to leave their homes for more than a week during these March storms: do they want to stay here?

One of those residents is Jennifer Heatherman,

We were first introduced to the Heatherman’s on March 3rd when her family was faced with an impossible situation: snowshoe a mile to town or stay put and hope they didn’t run out of fuel. They were stuck in their home by downed trees and power lines.

Jennifer told us in early March, “we are going to have to evacuate to a neighbor's home because we don’t have enough propane to run our generator.”

They ended up going 10 days without power.

Fast forward to Friday, 20 days later, she and their neighborhood's private drive finally clear but what has left behind paints a picture. Jennifer whose former military calls it a war zone.

“100% our only access, we have emergency roads I shouldn’t even call them that we have emergency access,” said Heatherman.

All the landowners contribute an annual fee for road maintenance to maintain their private access roads. But in the storms, they did the cleanup themselves, or else they wouldn’t be able to get their vital propane deliveries.

“That was us that was the community, we just got out there with the chainsaws and cut them up as best we could and use the tractors to move them so we could hire a private plow company,” said Heatherman.

How are you feeling even now about your safety in these situations?

“I’m not going to lie I feel very scared with the fact that these weather events are going to be more common, with climate change it’s scary to know our one road our one access to healthcare with a small child and one on the way it is very scary,” said Heatherman. “I don’t think our local agencies were prepared to handle the chaos.”

Were you happy with the response you got from the county, PG&E, and the propane companies?

“I wouldn’t say happy,” said Heatherman.

We took that to the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services. Their Director Craig Griesbach said the county is dealing with a significant amount of damage.

What solutions do you have for residents?

“We have our free building permit fee waiver process it also has expedited review for those projects for customers who experienced damage. We also have a tax relief if you experienced more than $10,000 in damage you can work with our office for tax relief,” said Griesbach.

Nevada County declared a state of emergency. We asked how that has helped them through this process.

“I think it helped a lot and that was from lesson learned last year we opened our emergency operation center early we declared a local emergency early and we were communicating with FEMA and Cal OES from lesson learned last year we have contractors on staff,” said Griesbach.

The county is also working on a schedule to offer debris pickup and is working on clearing roadways.

We shared those solutions with Jennifer Heatherman.

“I think that’s a great answer that’s a great place to start,” said Heatherman.

Her biggest request was early communication from the county about storms so they can best prepare themselves.

The county is asking their residents with storm damage to participate in the storm survey. It’s available on Ready Nevada County. So far, 850 people have responded reporting 20 million dollars in damage to private property in the county.

The reason residents are looking for answers now is that in a few months, they will be faced with the same issues but in different weather. Wildfire season has the same problems: no power, fallen trees, and evacuation routes need to be cleared.

Watch: Northern California storm: Buildings red-tagged in South Lake Tahoe | To The Point

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