Tempers began to flare for residents of Forest Falls and other mountain communities who were stuck below the roadblock near the Mill Creek Ranger station on Tuesday.

Debi Welch, a 35-year resident of Forest Falls, said a California Highway Patrol lieutenant had told her over the telephone that she could drive to Falls Vale Elementary School to pick up her two children, Nicholas, 7, and Sasha, 11.

But San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies below the roadblock were under orders not to let anyone up.

Welch broke into tears, out of frustration and concern about her children.

Like many residents, Welch had left Forest Falls prior to the roadblock to run errands in Yucaipa and other nearby cities.

Joe Wheeler, 65, had major shoulder surgery last Friday and was overdue for pain pills, which he left at home. He and his wife he been shopping in Redlands and afterward found their path home blocked.

"The pain is starting to pick up," he said, after a couple of hours beneath the roadblock.

Martin Van De Car, was returning home to work and concerned that his wife, who had a severe stroke in 2007, would be needing his help.

"Half her body is badly paralyzed. I leave her set up with a little bit of wood, but she's going to be needing me to help her real soon," he said.

I've been up here 13 years and been through fires and floods," said Sheri Roland. "This is just another thing."

At about 5:30 p.


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m., a CHP vehicle drove by people below the roadblock and an officer, talking through the vehicle's loudspeaker, said that residents of Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks and Mountain Home Village would be permitted to go home with identification.
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