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SoCal Storm Kickoff: Long Beach Firefighters Rescue Three Homeless Men From Los Angeles River, Traffic Ensues

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Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM

click to enlarge Hard out there on the Los Angeles River
  • Hard out there on the Los Angeles River
Updated after the jump: All the storm that's fit to print, including 100 car crashes in three hours this morning. Oh, L.A.

In what KNX news radio is calling a "dramatic water rescue," the Long Beach Fire Department pulled three homeless men from the Los Angeles River this morning while freeway commuters sat in the first of the week's storm traffic, finally feeling the wintry pain of the rest of the nation.

It seems just yesterday we were basking in the gorgeous February sun (oh wait, it was), remembering a thousand times over why we never made the big career move to New York Shitty. But alas, this morning, we woke to a depressing wet sky blanket that will most likely turn into the second major rainpocalypse of Winter 2010-11. Sigh.

At least we have dramatic water rescues to color the gray! According to Long Beach Fire Captain Richard Brandt:

The three homeless men became trapped by high water on a patch of elevated land just south of Willow Street.

"Once they realized how fast the water was coming, they were unable to get off the island," says Brandt (sounds like an episode of "Survivor").

A handy-dandy map of the rescue spot:


View Larger Map

But they're all safe and sound now -- probably even more than before the rains came. Ah, the irony of the weather gods.

Meanwhile, the 605 was as clogged as an NYC sewer system in February (hey -- they have their living conditions, we have our traffic). The rest of the L.A. freeway system has been equally chaotic this morning, with several inches of rain reported in parts of the 5 and little to no visibility on the 514.

And on the westbound 210, a tractor trailer flipped early this morning to extremely aggravating aftermath. For live traffic updates, click here.

Don't hold your breath for another round of beach weather to make it all better: Showers are expected to continue through this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow, with another storm due this weekend. The Los Angeles Times says snow will fall as low as 3,000 feet. Wahhh! We want our paradise back.

Update: According to City News Service, during the typical 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. traffic jam, the California Highway Patrol reported "about 100 collisions -- triple the number of accidents it normally handles on comparable dry day."

Then there was the 10 a.m. diesel spill on the 605 near the Whittier Boulevard exit, where two big rigs had apparently jackknifed, making sure not even a 5 MPH crawl would be possible for the late-to-work crowd.

Want to know exactly how much we Angelenos suck at handling rain on pavement? CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos put it nicely to City News Service:

Typically after a rain, he said, motorist spin out on freeway access roads, because they are accelerating too fast while trying to merge, or coming off the freeway too fast.

"You don't want to make up lost time by hurrying,'' Villalobos said, adding that if you have to use you windshield wipers, the law requires you to have your headlights on.

Ha! In other words, y'all should all be condemned to a lifetime sentence of traffic school, you sun-baked fools.

The worst of the weather will arrive Friday, just in time to ruin your weekend with eight hours and about 3 inches of steady rain. On a random side note, if you need sandbags and live in Burbank, hit up the Public Works Field Services Yard at 124 South Lake Street between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Nothing like some FREE swag on a rainy day!

Originally posted at 9:30 a.m.

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