Valentine’s Day floods prompt multiple rescues

First responders provide aid to numerous San Jacinto-area victims

Courtesy Danny Smelthurst and Hemet Eye News
A drone’s eye view of flooding near Ramona Expressway and Sanderson with Lambs Canyon in the distance from an online posting by Danny Smelthurst on Hemet Eye News.

■ By Taj Shorter / Metro Editor

This past Valentine’s Day proved to be less than lovely this year for several victims and first responders involved in swift-water rescues caused by the recent heavy rain plaguing Riverside County, specifically in the San Jacinto area.
Last Thursday, dozens of emergency responders conducted multiple rescue missions to aid victims caught in rain-swollen areas throughout the valley.
Several motorists became trapped while trying to cross heavily flooded roadways.
Other missions involved rescuing homeless people stranded on river bottoms due to rising water levels in the San Jacinto River.

Courtesy Linda Grigoleit, Golden Era Productions
The normally dry San Jacinto River now with millions of gallons of rainwater raging past and eroding its far banks.

Trapped on an island
Around 12:30 p.m., a report came in of several people being trapped on an island near the Soboba Springs Country Club golf course in San Jacinto. Cal Fire and the Riverside County Fire Department were able to hoist the three victims off the island via airlift and provide paramedic care at the scene.
Later in the day, another set of victims was stranded in rushing water that was several feet deep on Ramona Boulevard. They had all climbed onto the top of a truck to get to safety and were stranded until a swift-water rescue team came to help using a large raft to remove them from the truck. None of the victims had sustained injuries or required further medical attention after being rescued.

Woman dies
Unfortunately, other victims across the county weren’t so lucky. According to Corona Fire Capt. Ryan Rolston, a woman in Corona was later found unconscious after being pulled from storm waters near the 91 freeway by McKinley Avenue. She was immediately administered CPR and transported to a nearby hospital where she later died. Her cause of death is pending an autopsy report from the coroner’s office.

Up to 30 people were caught in rivers and flooded roadways throughout Riverside County. The majority sustained few if any injuries. Numerous firefighters from five different engine companies, a paramedic squad, and a swift-water rescue team worked around the clock assisting victims on Feb. 14.

Rainfall throughout Riverside County peaked during the storm. In the Hemet/Valle Vista area, rainfall from the Feb. 14 storm was recorded at 4.32 inches, while Mt. San Jacinto received an impressive 9.12 inches.

Courtesy Carol Aldama Montes and Hemet Eye News
Ramona Expressway in the midst of the flooding as cars continue to travel along it.

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