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High water forces rescue of 16 homeless people along American River

Firefighters rescue three men and a dog from rising river

Three men and a dog were removed from an island in the American River near Howe Avenue Thursday morning. They were stranded as the river rose in a storm on Thursday, Dec. 15.
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Three men and a dog were removed from an island in the American River near Howe Avenue Thursday morning. They were stranded as the river rose in a storm on Thursday, Dec. 15.

High water from this week’s storms forced the Sacramento Fire Department to rescue 16 homeless people and 14 dogs along the American River and some tributaries on Friday.

All of the people had been camping on previously accessible pieces of land that were turned into islands, said Chris Harvey, a spokesman for the department.

Such rescues are not uncommon, given the number of homeless people who camp along the American River Parkway, he said. But Friday’s conditions did lead to more people and animals being rescued than in previous years.

That’s because the water was higher than usual, Harvey said. The river started rising three days before the storm because officials had to release water from the Folsom Dam to make room in the reservoir for the water from the storms.

Releases from the dam continued for three days and were followed by two days of rain and snow.

Law enforcement and fire officials said they warned homeless people in advance and asked them move to higher ground, but some chose to stay, Harvey said.

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