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Evacuations in parts of Laguna Beach lifted after heavy rain causes flood closures in Laguna, Newport and H.B.

Rain water pours down a storm drain on Beach St. in downtown Laguna Beach, from Laguna Canyon, after
Rushing storm water from Laguna Canyon pours down a drain on Beach Street in downtown Laguna Beach during Thursday’s rain.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach lifted an evacuation order Thursday afternoon for residents along Laguna Canyon Road after heavy rain earlier in the day sent water and debris gushing down the canyon, prompting the evacuation of the Alternative Sleeping Location homeless shelter and recommended evacuation of the Sun Valley neighborhood.

Police Sgt. Jim Cota said California Department of Transportation crews were working to clear the canyon road of debris and that residents with identification would be allowed back into their homes. Downtown streets closed by flooding also were reopening, he said.

Occupants of the homeless shelter were taken Thursday morning to Neighborhood Congregational Church, which is sometimes used as a cold-weather emergency shelter, to wait out the storm. Cota said they would be allowed to return to the shelter once Laguna Canyon Road was clear.

Sun Valley residents between Phillips Street and the U-Haul location at 20522 Laguna Canyon Road were offered shelter at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center on Third Street downtown, the city said. Signs there pointed to a first aid center, a sleeping area and a food station.

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Animals at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at 20612 Laguna Canyon were placed in a higher level of the shelter in case of flooding, Cota said.

A video the city posted on Twitter at about 10 a.m. showed a raging river of water racing down the canyon in the 20500 block of Laguna Canyon Road.

The rain prompted road closures in Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach due to flooding.

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The Laguna Beach Police Department reported Thursday morning that both directions of El Toro Road had been closed between Laguna Canyon Road and the 73 toll road.

Broadway Street was closed between Beach Street and Coast Highway, the department said.

In Huntington Beach, Pacific Coast Highway between Seapoint Street and Warner Avenue was closed, Caltrans said. It was at least the fourth time in the past month that parts of PCH in that area have been closed due to rain-related flooding.

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A mudslide closed Back Bay Drive between Shellmaker Road and Eastbluff Drive in Newport Beach on Thursday morning.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

In Newport Beach, crews closed Back Bay Drive between Shellmaker Road and Eastbluff Drive because of flooding and mudslides, according to city representative Mary Locey.

The road will remain closed until crews have cleaned the area and inspected it for safety, Locey said. Depending on the weather, crews plan to start the cleanup Tuesday morning and reopen the road as soon as possible, she said.

‘Little too rainy’

Some of the people evacuated from Laguna’s Alternative Sleeping Location made Valentine’s Day cards at a table at Neighborhood Congregational Church while others sat against the wall and read. Others played games of chess and Uno.

Keroy Fields, 42, said he would normally be at Whole Foods Market with a sign asking for blessings. Instead, he decided to spend most of the day indoors meditating or reading.

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“Little too rainy out there to be flying a sign,” he said. “It’s been nice here [at the church].”

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Bobby Hitchcock, 64, said he had planned to go to Dana Point on Thursday but decided to wait out the rain at Neighborhood Congregational Church in Laguna Beach.
(Photo by Faith E. Pinho)

Bobby Hitchcock, 64, said he had wanted to take a bus to Dana Point to give his girlfriend a valentine. But the rain forced him to stick around Laguna Beach. He recorded videos of floodwater rushing down the gully along Laguna Canyon Road.

“It’s the fullest I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District said after-school activities were canceled, and the Boys & Girls Club in the canyon closed, according to the city.

The U.S. Postal Service said mail delivery to some Laguna Beach residents was interrupted because of the storm. The service said residents who did not get their mail could pick it up at the carrier annex at 91 Columbia St. in Aliso Viejo, which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The rainy weather was expected to continue into Thursday evening and possibly Friday.


UPDATES:

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This article was originally published at 9 a.m. and was later updated with additional information.


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