A 23-year-old homeless man swept away by fast-moving storm runoff in the concrete-lined Pacoima Wash was rescued from the flood control channel Tuesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The man, who was described as “hypothermic and not terribly communicative” after being rescued from 3-foot-deep water moving 8 to 10 mph, had been carried 2.5 miles from San Fernando to Pacoima, said Brian Humphreys, a spokesman for the LAFD. He fell into the water near Foothill Boulevard and was rescued near Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

More than 100 firefighters were deployed in the rescue effort, Humphreys said.

The man was hospitalized in “fair condition for treatment of hypothermia and abrasions to his hands,” according to the LAFD.

Bystanders did the right thing by alerting authorities and staying out of the dangerous water, Humphreys said, adding that “often times people attempt to rescue and they become victims.”

After historic winter storms dumped several feet of snow on California’s mountains in recent weeks, another atmospheric river forecast to hit the state this week has raised significant concern about flooding and structural damage.

Warm rain is expected to fall on top of the state’s near-record snowpack, which can melt the snow too quickly and cause major runoff issues at lower elevations.

Terry Castleman

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