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Police Files (Cont.)

Storms rain havoc and destruction with flooding across the City, resulting in downtown and Canyon closures

A winter storm forecasted to hit Laguna Beach and the Southern California area this week packed a punch as promised, causing flooding in the Canyon and downtown areas especially on Thursday, Feb 14, resulting in myriad closures around the City.

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The Canyon was hit hard with flooding on Thursday

On Tuesday morning, Laguna Beach sent out a Nixle warning in anticipation of storm: “The Weather Service is advising a winter storm which will impact Laguna Beach Wednesday - Thursday.”

The warning said to expect intermittent periods of rain and potential localized flooding. During the storm, some homes were flooded and businesses had to close.

On Thursday at 10:33 a.m., the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach advised that the Canyon branch was closed due to flooding and that, “Top of the World, El Morro, and Thurston District Club members will be rerouted to the Lang Park Branch at 21540 Wesley Drive.” The Boys & Girls Club also strongly urged parents to pick up their children directly from school because of the severe weather.

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The storm channel on the verge of collapsing, succumbs to the elements

Four minutes later, a Nixle alert was put out at 10:37 a.m., reporting, “Localized flooding is currently occurring on Laguna Canyon Road at El Toro Road. Use caution when driving.” 

The warning swiftly changed, alerting that many areas in Laguna had been heavily impacted by flooding. The Canyon was closed between Canyon Acres and El Toro Road, as well as both directions of El Toro Road at the 73 Toll Road, and downtown at Broadway Street between Beach Street and Coast Highway. The closures remained in effect all day, anticipated to last until at least 5 p.m., according to Nixle.

The storm channel collapsed between the Boys & Girls Club and the Sawdust, causing additional strife.

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Some places roar like the Colorado River down the Canyon

The Susi Q Center opened its doors and was activated as a care and reception center/shelter for people in need and their pets because of safety concerns.

At 3:45 p.m., City Digital Communications Coordinator Jennifer Chapman reported on Nextdoor: “The rain has largely finished for today. The forecast calls for light, scattered showers this evening. We may have additional rain showers on Sunday. All downtown streets are open again. Evacuations have been lifted for Sun Valley Road and all others evacuated from low-lying areas in Laguna Canyon, including clients of the Alternate Sleeping Location. 

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Land and trees are swallowed up

Clients of the ASL are being transported back to the ASL from the Neighborhood Congregational Church. CalTrans crews are working remove debris to reopen Laguna Canyon Road. However, residents with proper identification may return to their homes.

The beach access points for Treasure Island, Crescent Bay, Bluebird, Victoria, Boat Canyon, [and] Main Beach…are closed. We are informally calling this ‘The Love Storm’ because it occurred on Valentine’s Day. This is the final update for the day.”

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Both sides of the Canyon get buried in water

Nixle helped too offering a sigh of relief when it was reported that all downtown closures had been lifted as of 4 p.m. “Downtown businesses and restaurants should be open for Valentine’s.”

It wasn’t until 5:58 p.m. that Laguna Canyon Road was open in both directions.

Stu News readers reported flooding and damage, but the exact amount is still unknown.

The Montage Resort too suffered a fallen eucalyptus tree, as reported by Stu News reader John Trevino of Villa Real Estate. He said, “I’m glad it didn’t fall on PCH.”

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Photo by John Trevino

A eucalyptus tree falls at the Montage blocking a walkway

The rain total in Laguna Beach has been 2.87 inches over the past two days and 3.03 inches over the past three days, according to OC Public Works.

Mother Nature makes a splash 

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Local Marielena Verdugo captures waterfalls in the Canyon caused by the storm

LagunaCanyon waterfall

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The ‘Valentine’s Day Storm’ brought new perspective to the Canyon