O.C. Supervisors declare local state of emergency amid havoc wrought by winter storms

The backyard of a Newport Beach home has succumbed to a landslide.
A Newport Beach home at 1930 Galaxy Drive as seen from Back Bay, has been red-tagged after the backyard succumbed to a landslide.
(Susan Hoffman)

The ground continues to shift near the site of a landslide that consumed the backyard of a home in Dover Shores, prompting the Orange County Board of Supervisors to declare a state of emergency Tuesday with more rain forecast in the region through Wednesday.

On March 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom had announced a state of emergency in 13 counties battered by deadly winter weather. That made relief funds available to impacted communities. However, Orange County was not initially included among those eligible for aid.

The supervisors’ declaration opens the possibility for the county to tap into those funds for storm-response efforts.


Winter storms have caused $1.6 million in damage to Seal Beach Pier and destroyed a lifeguard tower in Laguna Beach worth around $96,000, representatives for Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley wrote in a statement. The backyard of a Dover Shores home fell into upper Newport Bay days after rain had soaked the bluff in Newport Beach.

“My hope is that there is no further sliding on the shore, but if these three homes fall, a cascading effect may happen to the 50 other homes on the bluff and we must be prepared in case that happens,” Foley said in a statement.

So far, the landslide appears to have been a “localized issue,” Newport Beach spokesman John Pope said Tuesday. However, geologists continue to monitor the situation, and the ground directly beneath the destroyed home and those directly adjacent to it is still shifting.

Crews have drilled eight 20-foot deep wells to pump out groundwater, Pope said. They hope that will somewhat stabilize the soil by “desaturating the hill from the inside,” Pope said.

In the meantime, city officials have been “meeting regularly with the homeowners to discuss options,” Pope said.

The latest bout of precipitation to fall on Orange County should peak overnight Tuesday before tapering off Wednesday evening. With between 2.5 and 3.5 inches of rain expected during that period, meteorologists advised people to be prepared for flooded streets, wet roads and other hazards.

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