Storm ravages Laguna Beach

Laguna Canyon, downtown areas are flooded. No reported deaths or injuries from deluge.

December 23, 2010|By Cindy Frazier,
  • Kush Gallery director Polina Hryn clears water and silt-like mud from the gallery floor after it was flooded early Wednesday morning following early morning rain deluge in the downtown area.
Kush Gallery director Polina Hryn clears water and silt-like… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Ten inches of rain pounded Laguna Beach over the past week, sending floodwaters from an overflowed Laguna Creek crashing over streets and closing Laguna Canyon Road and parts of downtown Laguna Beach on Wednesday after the rainfall reached a peak.

Twenty-five people were rescued early Wednesday during the height of the storm. Swift-water rescue teams pulled people from vehicles or homes that were threatened by a raging Laguna Creek, according to Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz.

No one has been injured or killed as a result of the storm, he said.

Thirteen homes on Hidden Valley Canyon Road, off of Park Avenue, were ordered vacated Wednesday and the residents returned to their homes Thursday morning, according to a statement from City Manager John Pietig. No other evacuations are under way, but more than 20 homes have been reported damaged by the storm, he stated.

The American Red Cross has opened a storm shelter at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave., for displaced residents.


The Laguna Beach City Council is calling an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. today and is expected to declare a state of emergency in the city, which would pave the way for relief for residents and business owners who suffered losses. The governor has already declared a state of emergency in most Southern California counties, including Orange County.

As of Thursday, Laguna Canyon Road was open from Forest Avenue to Big Bend only to residents and business owners and closed to all traffic from Big Bend to the 73 Toll Road, according to the city's website. Laguna Canyon Road is not expected to reopen until today.

City specialists are assessing the hillsides along with several structures throughout town, the city's website stated.

Portions of the Main Beach Boardwalk are expected to be closed for weeks while repairs take place, Pietig stated.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Laguna Canyon Road was inundated with floodwaters and all the marine mammal patients were evacuated to other facilities, according to spokeswoman Melissa Sciacca.

"We are so grateful for the outpouring of offers to help clean and rebuild," Sciacca said in an e-mail alert. "The initial cleanup teams are in the process of being established, and when we are in a position to take on additional hands we will let you know as soon as possible."

The city's animal shelter was also evacuated, with cats taken to the Bluebelle Foundation and other animals to facilities in other cities, according to Kravetz.

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