Imperial County

Late-summer monsoon leads to flash flooding, rescues in Imperial County

The storm spanned from the central Imperial Valley near El Centro east to past the California-Arizona border near Yuma

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An early September monsoon Friday brought several inches of rain to the southeastern portion of the state.

The late-summer storm spanned from the central Imperial Valley near El Centro east to past the California-Arizona border near Yuma. This area makes up a small part of the 7% of the state that remains either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

As of late Friday, the Imperial County Fire Department (ICFD), along with a helicopter crew from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego and the California Highway Patrol, had conducted more than a dozen rescues of people in floodwaters, according to ICFD Deputy Fire Chief Salvador Flores.

Most of those rescues, Flores said, occurred along State Route 78 near the town of Palo Verde, which had received 3.36 inches of rain between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Other areas along SR-78, east of the Glamis sand dunes and Palo Verde received over 4 inches of rain.

Among those rescued was a man driving a semi-truck that got stuck in a wash. He managed to crawl out but got swept away by the floodwaters, according to a news release from the Coast Guard on Saturday.

The helicopter crew managed to find the truck driver and rescue him, along with two others.

"The Coast Guard remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in distress, especially during emergency situations like flash flooding," said Capt. James Spitler, Coast Guard Sector San Diego commanding officer, in the news release. "The successful rescue operation is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of Coast Guard personnel."

The CHP reported several roads in Imperial County where roads were blocked with debris and would be closed to motorists.

Portions of SR-78 in Imperial Valley remained closed on Saturday as crews continued clearing the debris.

Caltrans San Diego posted on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, around 10 p.m. on Saturday that traffic on SR-78 at Ogilby and Palos Verdes was traveling in one direction only.

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