Floodwaters in Plumas County nearly claimed an 81-year-old man Friday afternoon.
The Indian Valley resident tried to drive across Arlington Bridge near Crescent Mills despite several inches of water on the bridge surface. When his vehicle stalled, he stepped out of it and was immediately swept downstream, said Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood.
Hagwood was 30 seconds away in an Air National Guard helicopter assessing flood damage and the need for evacuations in Indian Valley. The helicopter swooped down over Indian Creek and lowered a trained rescue officer to the man, who was clinging to a willow tree 100 yards below the bridge.
He was successfully lifted into the helicopter, Hagwood said.
“Another two minutes and he would have been gone,” he said.
The unnamed victim was transported to Plumas District Hospital.
He spent less than a day in the hospital, then caught a ride back to Indian Valley through roads that were closed to the general public due to flooding and mud slides.
Four days of heavy rains have inundated streams throughout the rural area, pushing them over their banks and onto roadways.
Highway 70 closed Friday near Portola when the middle fork of the Feather River spilled onto the road.
In Indian Valley, the community of Greenville was isolated most of Friday because of several feet of water on southbound Highway 89 near Crescent Mills and mudslides blocking the road north to Canyondam. The northbound section opened late Friday afternoon to one-way escorted traffic.
The 140 residents of nearby Taylorsville were also isolated because of flooded county roads in one direction and the waters of Indian Creek, which breached Arlington Bridge on Thursday afternoon.
Westbound Highway 70 has been closed since Tuesday from Jarbo Gap to Highway 89 because of rock slides and mudslides. Part of the damage has been caused by Bucks Lake, which began overflowing its spillway Thursday and continues to send water into the Feather River Canyon 10 miles to the west.