Two homeless people were stranded on a makeshift island in the Santa Ana River bottom Thursday after it overflowed amid heavy rains, prompting firefighters to deploy for a swift-water rescue.
The victims were spotted by passersby about 11:40 a.m. in the middle of the river, north of the Market Street bridge, between Riverside and Jurupa Valley, according to the Riverside Fire Department.
Capt. Brian Guzzetta told City News Service that the transients, whose identities were not immediately known, had apparently camped on a sand pile that was quickly surrounded on all sides by fast-moving water after heavy downpours moved through the area Thursday morning.
Although the water was not more than a couple of feet deep, the victims did not want to risk attempting to wade to the shore, according to reports from the scene.
Firefighters reached the individuals, and by noon they were deploying to take them to safety using rafts and ropes. The operation was expected to take about 90 minutes to complete, according to reports from the scene.
No injuries were reported.
The Market Street bridge was partially closed as crews from the city and Riverside County used it to establish a command post.
Riverside police officers were directing traffic to undo the resulting jam on the four-lane overpass.