SEAL BEACH, Calif. – A low-lying street in the Southern California shore community of Seal Beach was inundated by rising seawater early Wednesday while authorities along the coast braced for an even bigger storm surge brought on by Hurricane Marie spinning off Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Several homes and garages were flooded after water cleared a 2 1/2 foot wall along several blocks of an oceanfront street, said police Sgt. John Scott.
Resident Blanca Dubonbrown told City News Service she woke up late Tuesday to find her first-floor apartment bedroom under 3 inches of water. Several of her neighbours in ground floor apartments also experienced flooding.
“I was getting ready with the sandbags, but it was too late when I tried to put them up,” she said.
Another breach was reported less than a mile to the north, in the Peninsula neighbourhood of Long Beach, where a sand berm was overtopped by the storm surge, causing minor street flooding, according to fire department spokesman Jake Heflin.
No injuries were reported.
Seal Beach Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey said crews were trying to dig a channel to allow water that had breached a beach wall to drain back into the ocean.
Workers were also piling sandbags along the streets and erecting a sand berm to hold back the storm surge before the next high tide, expected shortly before 11 a.m.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the biggest southern swell I’ve seen,” Bailey told City News Service.
The National Weather Service said beaches stretching 100 miles up the Southern California coast would see large waves and rip currents. Swimmers and surfers were urged to be aware of the dangerous conditions.
At The Wedge in Newport Beach, a famous surfing spot, dozens lined the beach on Tuesday to watch bodysurfers get pounded by storm-driven waves up to 10 feet high. People took photos and video and clapped, whistled, and cheered when a bodysurfer caught one of the swells.
Lifeguards with flippers and rescue batons at the ready patrolled the edge of the water and two rescue boats kept an eye on the dozen or so brave souls in the water. An ambulance was on stand-by.
Would-be big-wave surfers who came out said they were hoping for swells up to 30 feet Wednesday. If they materialize, it will be the biggest wave event at The Wedge since 1997, when Hurricane Linda produced monster swells, said Tim Burnham, who’s making a documentary about the famed surfing locale.
“This is the stuff that you dream of: rainbows, unicorns, Southern Hemi swells, hurricane swells,” he said as he dried off from a session in the waves.
“You definitely have a healthy amount of fear,” Burnham said. “You know, you don’t want to be stupid. You’re here to push yourself, but at the end of the day you want to go home to your family.”
Some 60 miles to the northwest in Malibu, where waves were 6-to-8 feet high, a surfer was pulled unconscious from the water at Surfrider Beach on Tuesday and later died at a hospital, authorities said. It was not clear whether the death was related to the surf and may have been from a medical condition, Kyle Daniels, a Los Angeles County lifeguard captain, told the Orange County Register. Malibu Pier was closed after a piling was knocked loose Tuesday in big waves.
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.