Orange County waterlogged, but so far no catastrophes reported in major storms
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 7. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.
It’s raining outside my window (for the third day in a row) as I pen this week’s newsletter from home, grateful that working remotely is not only still allowed by my company but an actual necessity because our office in Orange County has not reopened since the start of the pandemic. One day it will, perhaps, but not yet.
I’m mindful more than a dozen hours will pass between the time I’m composing this note to you and the point at which it will be delivered to your email inbox, and the rain is still falling, relentlessly so. Orange County is utterly waterlogged, but so far (knock on wood) there haven’t been any truly catastrophic damages reported in our region, nothing as awful as experienced by more northern counties. I’m hopeful that when this weather system passes, a look back will reveal O.C. stayed in relatively good shape throughout.
Late last week we were all given ample notice of the advancing atmospheric river that would pound the state from north to south. Keeping an eye on the weather reports, it appeared to me by early Sunday the area between southern Santa Barbara and southern Los Angeles County would bear the brunt of rainfall Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and that Orange County might remain somewhat unscathed. Then, on Sunday evening, this L.A. Times headline caught my eye: “‘Catastrophic, life-threatening’ flooding expected in Orange County, Inland Empire.”
Well, that couldn’t be good, I thought.
National Weather Service officials noted the storm was expected to stall over the region on Monday and could bring as much as 5 to 7 inches of rain to Anaheim and Irvine, while San Clemente could receive 4 to 5 inches.
In response to the advancing torrential rains, Orange County Sheriff’s Department issued voluntary evacuation warnings Sunday night for areas in the Santa Ana Mountains, including along sections of the Santiago, Silverado, Williams, Modjeska, Trabuco, Live Oak, Rose, Holy Jim and Black Star canyons, as well as around Irvine Lake. There have been concerns over the past few days that saturated hillsides could give way, and that remains a possibility.
In La Habra Sunday night, various news outlets reported a retaining wall at an apartment complex collapsed, damaging cars parked near its base.
Surprising no one who ever travels along Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach whenever any rain has fallen, the stretch there between Seapointe Street and Warner Avenue had to be closed for an indefinite period due to flooding.
Bolsa Chica State Beach was closed, as was Crystal Cove State Park. The campground at Doheny State Beach flooded, and a voluntary evacuation of campers was initiated. Storm information and a list of park closures were offered to trail users at ocparks.com/alerts.
County residents were advised to stay out of water and watershed areas. Drivers were asked to stay off vulnerable canyon roads. Traffic accidents were reported on slick streets, and there were some power outages.
Knott’s Berry Farm was closed Monday and Tuesday; Disneyland announced it would close earlier than usual Monday because of the expected heavy rainfall that night. Cal Fullerton went to remote learning Monday. John Wayne Airport had some flights delayed and canceled due to the inclement weather.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in eight SoCal counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Some of the O.C. communities mentioned in the National Weather Service flood advisory issued Tuesday morning were Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton, Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo.
Several events in Orange County, including some city council meetings scheduled for Tuesday night, were canceled.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service Orange County forecast for today looked like this: “Showers likely, mainly before 10 a.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 58. Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.” The same forecast indicated tonight will also likely involve showers, with wind gusts reaching as high as 20 mph.
It looks like things will soon be tapering off and forecasters are now saying we can expect a sunny, if chilly weekend. Bring it on.
• The Newport Beach Harbor Commission is eyeing a significant increase in rental fees for public moorings. Local live-aboard residents are worried they won’t be able to afford the proposed increases; in fact one told a reporter she believes several people will be left homeless if the higher rates go into effect. According to this Daily Pilot story, Harbor Commission chair Stephen Scully maintains the city needs to take the action because of a 2007 Orange County Grand Jury report that found Newport Beach was undercharging boat owners for mooring permits.
• The Orange County Transportation Authority is getting emergency aid to repair train tracks in San Clemente after Caltrans issued an emergency declaration. A recent landslide halted passenger train service indefinitely between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations used by Metrolink and Amtrak passengers.
• A rental assistance project seeded with $500,000 from Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee’s Fourth District Fund got underway Feb. 1. The rental assistance, reported by City News Service, is open to residents of Chaffee’s district in Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia, Stanton and parts of Anaheim. A hotline has been set up for eligibility at (714) 769-8777.
PUBLIC SAFETY & COURTS
• Several local court cases have been resolved in the past week. The following is a partial list culled from the reporting of City News Service:
— Former Anaheim elementary school teacher and high school wrestling coach Richard O’Connor was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison for possessing child pornography. The 45-year-old Anaheim resident pleaded guilty in the case on May 15.
— A 49-year-old man won a reduced sentence Monday in a state Supreme Court ruling. Oscar Manuel Vaquera had been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 2014 for sexually assaulting two boys he lived with in Anaheim. The state Supreme Court ruled he should instead have been given a punishment of 15 years to life, based on an argument focused on the way the prosecutor in the case filed the charges.
— A case in Orange County against former La Habra Police Department Chief Alan Hostetter has been dismissed. The local misdemeanor charges against Hostetter stemming from a protest in San Clemente about pandemic-related restrictions had been expected to be dropped after he was sentenced Dec. 7 to 135 months in federal prison for his role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
— A 38-year-old man from Santa Ana was given 15 years to life for the beating death of his friend, a musician from Dana Point. Arthur Fenwick Williams pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to second-degree murder in the July 20, 2019, killing of 48-year-old drummer David Patrick McCabe in Anaheim. Williams, who was about to go on trial for the murder when he entered his plea, was given credit for 1,653 days behind bars awaiting trial.
— A Garden Grove woman pleaded guilty yesterday to an Aug. 11, 2020, collision in Anaheim that killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman. Courtney Fritz Pandolfi was charged with second-degree murder as well as a felony count of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI, driving under the influence of a drug and possession of drug
• The atmospheric river storms held off until after the Surf City Marathon was over Sunday. About 18,000 runners competed in the 28th annual event in Huntington Beach, which featured all first-time winners in both the marathon and half-marathon. Oswaldo Cerda of Montebello won the men’s marathon in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 33 seconds. Women’s marathon winner Teresa Rokos, a resident of Altadena, crossed in first place in 3:03.22 in just her second marathon. Fountain Valley resident Estaban Prado crossed first for the men’s half-marathon in 1:08:04. The women’s half-marathon was won by Gabrielle Yatauro, an Edison High alumna who now lives in New York. She finished the race in 1:17:58.
• Super Bowl LVIII, pitting the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs, is Sunday afternoon. If you live in Orange County and don’t already have plans to watch the big game with others, Google comes to the rescue. Here’s a list of some area Super Bowl gatherings for your consideration.
• It’s playoff time for high school basketball, soccer, girls’ water polo and wrestling. L.A. Times prep sports columnist Eric Sondheimer takes a look at the pairings. Several O.C. baseball teams also made Sondheimer’s Top 25 list published yesterday.
LIFE & LEISURE
• Skate ramps with an ocean view have recently been installed outside the Laguna Beach Community and Recreation Center. The temporary ramps are on the site formerly occupied by the St. Catherine of Siena school the Diocese of Orange acquired for $23 million in December 2022. The skate ramps were purchased for $75,000 and are part of the interim use plan for the property at 30516 South Coast Highway. “Everybody seems happy [with the skate park], and it gets used,” Laguna Beach recreation manager Alexis Braun told the Daily Pilot.
• Marina View Park in Costa Mesa now boasts a butterfly garden. The Mariposa Garden features drought-tolerant native and naturalized plants to attract a variety of insects, including the monarch butterfly. When city officials unveiled the new area last week they also showed off the first public art project funded by Costa Mesa, a butterfly-themed installation called “La Magia de Colleta” at the site.
• Adult learners of English have discovered a helpful, free program offered at the Newport Beach Public Library. Project Adult Literacy provides one-on-one tutoring and small-group classes to native English speakers with low literacy skills or those learning English as a second language. Currently, about 80 learners and dozens of tutors are participating in the program, which started out in 1986 with one tutor and a single student, according to this Daily Pilot feature by my colleague Lilly Nguyen.
• The 22nd annual Laguna Beach Music Festival takes place Feb. 12 to Feb. 18. A co-presentation of Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, the multi-day series will feature classical and contemporary music, with acclaimed violinist Anne Akiko Meyers serving as artistic director. Three concerts will be performed at Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road. Related events are also planned throughout the week, some of which are not open to the public. A complete list and ticket information can be found here. In conjunction with the festival, on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at Heisler Park, artists affiliated with Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn., Laguna Beach Music Festival artists and local musicians will gather along the Laguna Beach cliffs for a morning of art, music and ocean views. This event is free and open to the public.
• “Fiddler on the Roof” comes to Fullerton’s Muckenthaler Cultural Center beginning next week and running through March 6. Electric Company Theatre presents the musical (music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) in an outdoor setting. All performances at 7 p.m. General admission is $35.
• Valentine’s Day is next Wednesday. Orange County singles who do not have anything else going on that night might consider checking out the two-hour “Be My Valentine Bash” speed dating event at Floe Lounge at the Irvine Marriott. Admission is $36. Reservations can be made here.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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