As heavy rains pounded the Southland Thursday, first responders saved at least two dozen people from flooding rivers across the region — with some of those rescues captured in dramatic video footage and photos.
One video shows a rescuer suspended from a helicopter floating down toward the roaring waters of the flooded San Gabriel River near North Peck Road and lifting up a person stranded on an isolated piece of land, as seen in video tweeted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s High-Risk Tactical and Rescue Teams.
It’s unclear what the condition of the rescued person was.
VIDEO: SWIFT WATER RESCUE. N Peck Rd x San Gabriel River, #LASD Air Rescue inserts LASD SEB Tactical Medics to perform a hoist rescue of person caught in the rising river. Saving lives priority 1! pic.twitter.com/uKgZj5nWjL
— SEB (@SEBLASD) January 17, 2019
About 25 people described as transients were stranded on an island in the Santa Ana River in the Jurupa Valley, according to Cal Fire Riverside. After several were rescued, 10 of them remained stuck on the banks of the river, officials said about 3:20 p.m.
Earlier, officials said 12 transients who were rescued did not suffer injuries and were all being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Cal Fire Riverside Captain Scott Visyak said they were surrounded by swiftly moving waters and a ground crew was sent in to assess which rescues were most urgent. Video shows two people being brought to dry land inside an inflatable rescue boat carried by first responders.
Other footage shows a Cal Fire chopper landing alongside the river as victims are brought to safety. One rescuer can be seen holding up a man as he walks away from the flooded river banks.
Visyak said those rescued were loaded into a waiting Cal Fire helicopter in groups of three and then given assistance by the Red Cross, which is expected to offer them shelter. He said the agency understands it is “taking them out of their homes,” making the help with housing necessary.
A total of at least 34 individuals and four dogs were being rescued from both sides of the Santa Clara River in Riverside County, according to Captain Brian Guzzetta. He said all the victims are believed to be homeless and rescue swimmers were assisting in the life-saving efforts.
Other individuals were being rescued from an area of the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino County that’s located near East Orange Show Road and Tippecanoe Avenue. One person was saved from the flooding waters by first responders on the ground while another person was able to lift his or herself from the area, officials said.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office’s Aviation Unit made multiple hoist rescues along the Santa Clara River as well, saving at least “three people and a couple of cats,” officials said. The victims were placed in the care of nearby first responders.
01/17/19 – Three people and a couple cats were rescued from the Santa Clara River today. Copter9 crew conducted multiple hoists and landed nearby to transfer the people to fire personnel. Please stay clear of fast moving water. pic.twitter.com/MzygC9RkRU
— VenturaCoAirUnit (@VCAirUnit) January 17, 2019
Earlier, just after 1 a.m., San Bernardino County first responders helped save a woman stuck inside a vehicle that had spun out into a 15-foot deep flood control channel in Fontana, officials said. The crash along the 10 Freeway west of Sierra Avenue left the victim trapped in waters rising up to the doors of the vehicle.
She managed to get out of the vehicle due to the fast water flow and walls providing flood control within the channel, officials said. Firefighters lowered a ladder down and hoisted her up to dry land.
The victim was not injured and the entire rescue was completed in about 15 minutes, officials said.
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Video released by the Altadena Sheriff’s Station in L.A. County shows another rescue being completed Thursday morning. A resident in Millard Canyon was trapped behind fast-moving waters and eventually saved by first responders who drove around a dirt road through the neighboring canyon to bring the victim to safety.
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With several people trapped in mud and debris flows in the Riverside area in December, law enforcement officials brought in National Guard all-terrain vehicles for rescues since they’re able to reach areas that are usually inaccessible to emergency crews, Visyak said.