High tide, massive surf causes flooding along Balboa Peninsula

A combination of high tides and violent surf Friday night on the Balboa Peninsula flooded homes, reduced a sailboat to splinters and prompted several near-death rescues offshore, according to authorities.


High tides and big surf caused flooding along the Balboa Peninsula on Friday, July 3, 2020

The flooding was centered near A Street and East Balboa Boulevard, said Newport Beach police Sgt. Steve Oberon.

The flooding was about knee deep and had reached three blocks inland.

Took the ferry to the Newport peninsula from Balboa island and came upon this! @KTLAnewsdesk @KCBSKCALDesk #abc7eyewitness pic.twitter.com/A3BZy8Bsfv

— Ang Grijalva (@angie_shows) July 4, 2020

The swell showed up fast and strong.

In addition to street flooding, the big waves and extreme high tide also flooded the beach parking lot near the Balboa Pier. Lifeguards scrambled through the day with several dangerous rescues.

“All three rescue boats were very busy with several near-death rescues that occurred,” said Newport Beach Lifeguard Skeeter Leeper.

Police were spotted pumping water near Main Street, and witnesses reported that a house near Lifeguard Tower P had flooded. A couple in a golf cart handed out water bottles to people stuck in their cars. A large sailboat that washed ashore at Coronado Street was in splinters, said witness Diane Edmunds.

Huge surf today, lots of rescues, dangerous conditions, high tides, and some flooding. https://t.co/59551frauI pic.twitter.com/2yecBbOyVj

— Mayor Will O’Neill (@MayorONeill) July 4, 2020

The swell, the biggest of the year so far, was expected to build on Friday but showed up in force. The waves should be even bigger on Saturday, July 4.

Diane Edmonds, a photographer who was out shooting the Wedge, was stuck in traffic for more than an hour, waiting with her car turned off with a line of others as traffic stopped on Friday evening. “Water came up like a lake, that lake turned into a river. The whole pathway was just like a river.”

Edmonds said the water was flowing up from the Newport Harbor, flowing over breakwalls into the streets, and was also coming from the ocean side.

She watched a bulldozer head toward the Wedge, likely to build a berm to protect houses. Some people said a lifeguard tower had been destroyed by waves. Edmonds said the waves were so strong, beachfront houses were getting slammed, something she’s never seen in her years shooting the Wedge.

“Water was going up to houses, big lakes everywhere. A full-on river flowed out to the road and down the streets around Wedge,” she said. “As we left the beach, there was a river of shoes all along the path to Wedge and all the way down the street. I was trying to grab them and match up pairs for anyone looking.”

The area is prone to flooding when big waves combine with an extreme high tide, which reached 6.7 feet at 8:33 p.m. Waves are expected to be even greater on Saturday, reaching up to 20 feet at the Wedge, with a 6.6-foot tide at 9:15 p.m.

“It’s going to be worse tomorrow night, it’s higher tide. The swell didn’t even peak yet, I can’t image what tomorrow will be like,” she said.

The last time Newport Beach flooded from high tide and big surf was July 12, 2018. However, it was less severe than what the Balboa Peninsula endured Friday, witnesses said.

The beach is shut down for the Fourth of July as well as on Sunday, July 5, a decision local officials made after other Southern California beaches started announcing closures earlier in the week. They feared crowds would flood into Newport Beach during the big swell, and worry heightened after two lifeguards tested positive for coronavirus and several others were forced into quarantine.

Capistrano Beach in Dana Point also was getting battered by the big waves. A concrete beam across the end of the parking lot was broken, said Toni Nelson, who heads a community group called Capo Cares.

“Mother Nature just eating up our parking lot,” she said. “The county has red-marked much of the remaining sidewalk at Capo. It’s broken and undermined and they need to remove it so people don’t get hurt. It’s just so sad to see our little beach disappearing.”

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Sewage spill closes bay water in Huntington Harbour

HUNTINGTON BEACH — All of the Huntington Harbour bay water area in Huntington Beach is closed until further notice to swimming, surfing and diving due to a sewage spill, officials announced Monday night.

The spill was caused by a cracked force main, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Environmental Health Division. The date the main cracked was not immediately disclosed.

The affected area will remain closed until future tests of water quality meet acceptable standards, the agency said.

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Santa Cruz surfer killed in shark attack had O.C. ties

WATCH: Drone video of great white sharks off Seacliff Beach in Santa Cruz.

CLICK HERE if you’re having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile device.

Officials have confirmed that the surfer who was killed in a shark attack on Saturday at Manresa State Beach in Santa Cruz County was 26-year-old Ben Kelly, owner of Ben Kelly Surfboards.

The Santa Cruz County coroner’s office identified Kelly, who was attacked at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday by an unknown shark species about a mile south of the main parking lot, California State Parks said in a statement.

Kelly was pronounced dead at the scene and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has notified his family.

According to the “about” section on his company’s website, Kelly is a self-taught surfboard shaper with boards “well represented here at home in Santa Cruz, California” and across the globe in Bali, South Africa, Mexico, Central America, Peru and in Hawaii.

A video posted on his company’s website shows Kelly shaping a surfboard at his Watsonville production studio Paradise Fiberglass.

“What started as a way to fuel my own surfing passion has now become a way to stoke out my fellow surfers, and that is truly fulfilling for me,” Kelly said in his bio. “It’s the way I have found to give back to others.”

On Kelly’s company Instagram page, where he posted a photo May 4 of his latest surfboard project, Aly Thompson, who said she was a resident assistant with Kelly in 2014 at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, posted a comment saying that she is “devastated.”

“I can’t imagine all that your family, Katie, and all those who loved you are holding right now,” Thompson said. “It was an honor to know you and to experience the capacity and ferocity you loved others with. Our year as RAs together was an absolute joy, and I am thankful to have known and experienced life with you in it. Praying for peace that surpasses all understanding and sending so much love.”

On the same post, Jeremy Pedron said he was heartbroken.

“Ben you have always been of the truly kindest & sweetest individuals out there,” Pedron said. “Your love of others always has a felt impact on your community. Your family is in our prayers and our hearts sad. God take care of him for us he deserves the best.”

Kelly and his wife also had a social marketing company, Authentic Approach.

According to the sheriff’s office, the attack occurred within 100 yards offshore near Sand Dollar Beach. The park is about five miles west of Watsonville.

Raymond Silver, who shot drone footage of sharks for his YouTube channel Stingray FPV, said he went out to some cliffs just south of New Brighton State Beach on April 30 and saw about 10 sharks in total around that area of Monterey Bay and said that his colleague Eric Mailander saw about 31 sharks over several days.

Silver said while he was shooting the drone footage he saw a kayaker and a couple swimming on the beach. He rushed over to the couple first, who were just 500 feet away from one of the sharks, Silver said, and yelled at them to get out of the water.

“They were about knee-deep in water, and one of them was so close,” Silver said. “They said they knew there were sharks, but they thought they would be near the cement ship where they usually hang out.”

Silver called Kelly’s death “tragic.” He said that in the past there have been “plenty of posters up” warning surfers and swimmers to watch out for sharks, but to his surprise, he said he didn’t find them at the closed-down state beach.

“There’s definitely a large presence right now,” Silver said. “This is the most I’ve seen in one spot. Most surfers go to the kelp beds, and the sharks stay away from those. At Manresa, there was a good amount of surf and not much kelp.”

Given that the sharks he saw were about 8 to 12 feet long, Silver said he suspects that most of them were juveniles that tend to travel along the coast to hunt before adulthood, when they go out into the open ocean.

On Saturday, Gabe McKenna, public safety superintendent with California State Parks, said a person flagged down a lifeguard patrolling the area to report the attack.

The water a mile south and a mile north of the attack will be closed for five days, until Thursday, May 14.

Officials are urging people to avoid the area. Signs have been posted at beach entrances and access points warning beachgoers about the attack.

Santa Cruz County closed all of its parks and beaches and banned surfing as part of the shelter-in-place order put in place to stem the coronavirus pandemic. But it reopened them and allowed surfing again in mid-April.

Shark attacks are very rare. According to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum, which tracks shark attacks, there were just 64 unprovoked attacks on humans worldwide in 2019. Three have occurred in California.

In March, a shark bit the board of a paddleboarder near Capitola, narrowly missing him, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Huntington Beach officials planning legal challenge to Gov. Newsom’s OC beaches closure

Huntington Beach officials voted to challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to close all Orange County beaches, a decision he announced earlier Thursday in response to beach crowds during a heat wave last weekend.

“Gov. Newsom’s mandate to close all beaches in Orange County today was a jarring decision that significantly impacts us here in Huntington Beach,” Mayor Lyn Semeta said in a news release. “Given that Orange County has among the lowest per-capita COVID-19 death rates in California, the action by the state prioritizes politics over data, in direct contradiction of the governor’s stated goal to allow science and facts to guide our response to this horrible global pandemic.”

The Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-2 to direct the city attorney to pursue any and all legal actions necessary to challenge the state’s beach closure directive.

The city will still be closing all beaches on May 1 out of concern for the issues that could be cause by being the only Orange County city with beaches still open, officials said.

The closure will include the city’s bike paths, boat ramps, restrooms, parking lots and associated recreational amenities. In addition, activities such as sunbathing, walking, running and watersports will be prohibited..

“Our experience locally had been that most people were being responsible and complying with social distancing requirements,” the city statement said.

Newport Beach officials also met in a closed-session City Council discussion Thursday evening. The governor’s brief and general directive raises enforcement questions that will require further clarification from his office and state Office of Emergency Services, according Mayor Will O’Neill said in a statement.

“The city’s public safety officers will strive to educate the public on the governor’s directive and are hopeful citations will be unnecessary,” the city memo says.

The Newport Beach City Council will hold a separate special meeting, expected this weekend, to discuss legal options to challenge the directive.

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The spill of 4 million gallons of raw sewage prompts closure of South O.C. ocean and bay areas

NEWPORT BEACH — A spill of about four million gallons of raw sewage led the Orange County Health Care Agency to declare off-limits the ocean and bay areas from Pelican Point at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach to the Poche Beach interface in Dana Point and San Clemente on Wednesday.

The agency did not reveal when, where and how the spill occurred but Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said the affected ocean and bay water areas will be closed to water-contact sports until follow-up water quality monitoring reveals they meet acceptable standards.

“I want to stress the importance of avoiding contact with ocean water in the affected areas due to the danger of exposure to untreated sewage, which can be harmful and result in very serious illness with potentially severe effects,” Quick said.

Any residents or visitors who smell the odor of sewage in the affected areas can file a complaint through the South Coast Air Quality Management District at 800-CUT-SMOG (800-288-7664).

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