LOS ANGELES (AP) — A team of firefighters using boats rescued four people trapped on an island of the raging Los Angeles River early Monday after a storm gorged rivers and knocked out power to thousands of utility customers.
The two men and two women, believed to be transients, ended up trapped on the island just north of downtown Los Angeles after heavy rain that started Sunday turned the river — usually a trickle — into a torrent. They were not hurt.
Homeless people who congregate along the river were warned ahead of the storm to find higher ground, but “for whatever reason, these people chose to ignore those warnings,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Daniel Curry.
About an inch of rain fell across much of the Los Angeles area beginning Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The rain was much heavier to the north, with 2.2 inches reported at a mountain weather station in San Luis Obispo County between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Between 4 and 8 inches of snow was forecast to fall in mountainous areas about 7,000 feet, prompting warnings for motorists to take precautions as they travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
It was the first significant rainfall for parched Los Angeles since mid-October. Before the latest storm, rainfall totals for 2016 were about half the historical average, with the region remains locked in drought.
The California Highway Patrol said about 200 collisions were reported on Los Angeles County freeways between 9 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday — compared with 30 during the same period a week ago when it was dry.
While most flood advisories issued Sunday had been lifted by Monday, authorities warned that hillside areas burned bare of vegetation over the summer were susceptible to mudslides and flows of debris because of the rain that soaked the bone dry ground.
Most electrical service was restored by Monday after thousands lost power in Los Angeles and Orange counties during heavy thunderstorms.