(CNN) -- After more than eight hours of being kept
at bay by severe weather and low visibility, helicopter rescue crews
found a way to rescue four hikers stranded in a raging Southern
California creek and ferry them to a waiting ambulance.
"The Ventura County
sheriff's helicopter was able to break through the weather system, and
has successfully hoisted all four of them out," Mike Parker, a spokesman
for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told CNN's "New Day
See Also: California goes from drought to mudslides
"It was a very very risky
rescue. It was quite a remote area. There's absolutely no lighting
there at all. The only lighting that we had was our rescuers with
flashlights on their helmets and the ones that they were holding,"
Parker said. "In the pitch black, it's pretty difficult to find them.
The creek was swollen and rising, and we were very concerned that they
would be drowned where they were."
The rescue happened around 3 a.m. (6 a.m. ET).
Rising water, slippery surfaces and the sheer rock walls of the gorge made matters difficult, Parker had said earlier.
Before the decisive
helicopter navigated through the skies, rescuers in rafts had been
"inching" across Malibu Creek in a "high risk" attempt to reach the
four, Parker said.
Earlier in the morning,
the batteries in the hikers' cell phone had died, but they were able to
communicate that they saw the beams from the rescuers' flashlights, even
though the rescuers could not see the hikers.
About an hour before the
rescue, the Malibu Search and Rescue helicopter made it through the foul
weather that had delayed it and "immediately spotted" the hikers. They
were about 200 yards upstream from the rescue team, Parker tweeted.
In messages sent before their cell phone batteries died, the hikers said they were cold but not injured, Parker said.
in the Malibu Creek Gorge were in the mid-40s, and rescuers were
concerned that hypothermia might become an issue for the hikers, Parker
The hikers, from Long Beach, were believed to be in their mid-20s, Parker tweeted.
106 million in path of latest winter blast
Mandatory evacuation orders
Severe rain that soaked
much of southern California has subsided in many Los Angeles suburbs,
though residents of at least two communities remained under mandatory
Authorities lifted a mandatory evacuation order for Monrovia early Sunday, but others remained in effect for Glendora and Azusa, CNN affiliate KTLA reported. So far, no deaths have been reported as a result of the rain.
"We've got people still
evacuated only because we expect those thunderstorms, those
high-intensity, short duration type of rainstorms," Glendora Police
Chief Timothy Staab told CNN affiliate KCAL Saturday
night. "The hillsides are already soaked right now, and it may not take
much to cause those mudslides to just come down out of the hills."
The hills can't absorb
water because so much vegetation was destroyed in wildfires and drought.
Walls of water have gushed into valleys below. They have spewed mud and
debris into quiet residential streets, turning them into thick, brown
"These areas have the
highest risk of being impacted by flooding/debris flows from rainfall
due to the loss of vegetation from the foothills," the city of Glendora
said in a statement to KABC, also a CNN affiliate.
Little drought relief despite downpour
The storms brought the
first rains since the collapse of a powerful, persistent weather system
that was keeping California parched, but they won't do much to alleviate
the drought, according to the CNN Weather Center.
A lot of the water is
flowing out to sea, and the drought's effects have been enormous. Water
reservoirs are running at minimum levels.
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