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South Lake Tahoe attempts to assess damage in storm aftermath

More than 100 buildings have been inspected after the storms.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Storms in South Lake Tahoe have given little break for first responders and residents to dig themselves out and start rebuilding.

They are trying to assess all their damages, like those at the Swiss Mart gas station where the roof collapsed due to the weight of the snow.

The gas station was engulfed in flames when South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue responded to its collapse on March 9. Now, it is just one of the many buildings taped off by Fire Marshal Kim George.

“100 building checks since March. First on top of that, the red tags are probably 15 to 20,” said George.

Red tags mean "do not enter," even for inspectors. It includes buildings like the one on Melba Drive, where a collapsed warehouse is under a heap of snow. Only one wall remains standing.

“Nothing we can do to further assess the building -- what is salvageable and what is not,” said George.

Lake Tahoe is heavily dependent on tourism.

“Taking a toll on some of the local business owners, because it has been harder for people to get up here,” said George.

Many tourists said, despite hearing about the collapses and large amounts of snow, it didn’t deter their plans to visit.

Paige Petersen, from San Luis Obispo, is in town to ski.

“It didn’t really play into it because I thought honestly, if the roads were clear, I was just going to come. And I looked at the conditions and it seemed like the roads were clear,” said Petersen.

Veronica Torchia, from Santa Barbara, says she makes the trip to Tahoe at least once a year, and the news of collapses didn’t impact her decision.

“Not really, we are here for a friend’s wedding, so it’s important for us to be here and support them,” said Torchia.

However, there is one less place for tourists and residents to shop, Raley's off Lake Tahoe Boulevard is still closed.

A Raley's spokesperson said in a statement:

We have not made any decisions just yet. We had a team of experts in this week to provide an assessment and plan.

In addition, we continue to work with the landlord on developing a plan to remove the remaining snow (the first step) and then repair the roof.

Potholes are another concern that's top of mind in South Lake Tahoe. The potholes are caused by the constant changing temperatures.

They fix it during the winter with a cold mix that's used for temporary fixes, according to the fire marshal. 

"It’s just difficult because it does tend to come up again with the next round of storms, but with the hot mix, it will be more permanent,” said George.

The hot mix will go down in the summertime.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue says they usually average 3,000 calls a year, but due to the weather, they anticipate 3,500 calls.


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