Water from a large swell generated by Hurricane Marie hundreds of miles off the coast pounded Seal Beach late Tuesday, flooding homes near the sand.
Orange County Fire Authority officials responded to reports of flooding south of the Seal Beach Pier toward 14th Street just after 11 p.m. About 30 homes were affected, mostly garages and crawl spaces, according to Marine Safety Sgt. Phil Gonshak. No damage or injuries were reported.
About 50 firefighters worked overnight to place nearly 6,000 sandbags near beachfront homes. Officials hoped the sandbags would protect the properties from the 3 feet of water that had settled on the boardwalk, said Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
Fire officials operated two bulldozers through the night to build a 6-foot sand berm in anticipation of another large swell.
Hundreds of spectators gathered near the pier Wednesday to watch as powerful 6- to 11-foot waves continued to pound the beach.
Authorities urged even the most experienced swimmers to avoid the water.
"These waves are coming with extreme power and frequency," Concialdi said. "It's beautiful, but it's too dangerous to be out here swimming."
A high-surf advisory will be in effect for Southern California until Friday evening, the National Weather Service said.
Sonny Lim said he started tearing carpet out of his house Tuesday night as he watched the water rise, but the surge stopped a few inches short of his property. To his relief, Fire Authority crews arrived shortly after and began laying sandbags and building the berm.
As Ron Larson helped sweep mud away from a home Wednesday, he said the authorities' reaction was slow. His house, except for the garage, was spared from the water, but across the street, an inch or two had crept into his neighbor's home, he said.
Larson said he could see the massive waves push the water higher as he stayed up through the night.
"You watch it and you watch it and you keep thinking, 'Stop. Stop,'" he said.
In Huntington Beach on Wednesday, Marine Safety Division officials reported 10- to 15-foot waves, with some breaking 50 yards from the end of the pier.
Two surfers briefly were reported missing early Wednesday, one off Anderson Street in Sunset Beach and another near lifeguard Tower 18 in Huntington Beach, Marine Safety Lt. Michael Beuerlein said. The surfer in Huntington Beach was able to return to the beach by himself, and the one in Sunset Beach was rescued by Orange County Harbor Patrol, Beuerlein said.
In the past three days, city lifeguards have made more than 150 rescues, mostly of swimmers and body surfers, Beuerlein said. The number is expected to grow as the week progresses, he said.
"The surfers have been very cooperative," he said. "We've instructed our tower guards and beach units to personally contact as many people as they can before they enter the water and advise them of the hazardous conditions. We are not closing the ocean, but we are advising people not to go out due to the dangerous conditions."