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Footage captures dramatic helicopter rescue of man caught in LA floods: ‘[He] entered the water to save his dog’

The safety of both the animal and human was at risk here.

The safety of both the animal and human was at risk here.

Photo Credit: LAFD

Heavy rainfall in California has led the Los Angeles River to surge, and authorities have captured dramatic video of the rescue of a man caught up in the swell.

What happened?

The Los Angeles Fire Department posted a video to Instagram (@LAFD) showing a helicopter rescue of a man battling a rapidly flowing river in the middle of a storm.

The BBC wrote that “the man had entered the water to save his dog,” which was able to swim to safety. 

But the man was left stranded, struggling to stand as the river continued its furious flow. 

Thankfully, a helicopter team was able to get to the scene quickly, airlifting a rescuer down to grab the man and carry him up and out of the river and into the aircraft. 

He was taken to the local hospital, while the dog was found and transported to a shelter for care until its owner was fit and ready to collect.

Why is this concerning?

The safety of both the animal and human was at risk here, and luckily the LAFD had the resources available to complete a heroic rescue.

While the surging river looks dramatic, it’s really doing what it’s supposed to do. As long as it doesn’t burst its banks during heavy rainfall, the river is helping to keep residents safe from flooding conditions. 

What’s more concerning, though, is the amount of rainfall Californians have experienced in early February. 

Indeed, the Los Angeles Times reported the city had witnessed near-record levels of precipitation, and one of the main concerns following such a deluge is the mudslides and sediment flows that follow, which block flood-control infrastructure.

“We currently have more than 15 million cubic yards of sediment in our reservoirs,” director of L.A. County Public Works Mark Pestrella told the L.A. Times. “If this pattern continues, it will be very difficult to keep up with the sediment.” 

Pestrella noted the cost of removing the sediment is around $500 million.

And with storms becoming more intense as a result of human-caused global heating, there is concern for the city’s flood defenses, too.

According to the L.A. Times, dams at Whittier Narrows, Prado, and Mojave River built to protect communities from flooding are structurally unsafe and at risk of collapse. The need to open the former dam’s spillway, for example, could impact the homes and livelihood of 1 million people in the San Gabriel River floodplain.

What can be done to limit heavy rainfall events?

When the air is hotter, it’s able to retain more moisture, which is why rainfall events are becoming more intense as the planet heats up.

Trying to limit the production of pollution that exacerbates the problem is essential. Even on a small scale, personal changes can make a difference, and they can encourage others to follow a similar course.

Using public transport, cycling, or walking instead of using a dirty-fuel-powered car for short journeys will limit the amount of planet-warming pollution you produce on a daily basis. Meanwhile, a family eating one plant-based meal a week can make a surprising impact, with Earth Day saying that it is equivalent to taking a car off the road for five weeks. 

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