West Coast
The beach path and parking lots are covered in sand at the north end of Bolsa Chica State Beach after recent storms in Huntington Beach, CA, on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

CA - Southern California beaches battered by storms and surge, but spared major damage

With a break in the storms, crews are cleaning up the mess left behind following the recent big surf and heavy rains that battered the region in the past week.

The north end of Bolsa Chica State Beach’s parking lots, closed for nearly a week following a flooding of seawater that stretched across the sand and into Pacific Coast Highway, will reopen by Thursday, Jan. 11, following extensive clean-up efforts, said State Parks Superintendent Kevin Pearsall.

Crews worked 17-hour shifts in recent days to remove debris and sand, he said, from the lots and the multi-use trail after the rain storm that hit last Thursday mixed with extreme high tides and a hefty swell to overwhelm the shore.

“It’s insane the amount of trash and debris and driftwood,” Pearsall said. “We’re asking people to be cautious and courteous of the cleanup process and so far everyone has complied.”

Pono Barnes, spokesman for Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguards, said no major damage was reported at South Bay beaches, though there was some sand erosion due to the high surf.

Workers will continue building up berms at vulnerable stretches of coast ahead of the next big swell heading to the area Friday and into the weekend, he said.

Carol Baker, spokesperson for Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors Department, said workers are continuing to move in sand and, where appropriate, add rocks to shore up the trouble areas, specifically at Point Dume and Dockweiler beaches.

The pier in Seal Beach will remain closed at least until next week, said Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey. Crews will be surveying the pier in coming days to determine the extent of the damage incurred during last week’s big swell that slammed the coast.

Several large wooden pilings and the boat ramp were ripped off of the pier, which remains closed until inspectors can determine if it is sound enough to reopen, he said. “We’re hoping it’s not a huge structural damage.”

The lingering high surf has kept divers from being able to safely get in the water and check under the pier, Seal Beach Police Capt. Nick Nicholas said Wednesday, Jan. 11. “However, it looks like tomorrow the conditions will be better, and we should have more information next week.”

Flooding from the latest storm was contained to the parking lots and on the beach in town, Bailey said. “We were able to keep it off the boardwalk.”

The Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT,  was out filling sandbags in the parking lot for residents to protect property earlier this week.

The sand berm built in front of beachfront homes held up, but with a new big swell on the horizon for Friday that could bring 5- to 8-foot waves, Seal Beach workers will keep an eye on the sand wall to see if it needs to be rebuilt, officials said.

“We’re paying close attention,” Bailey said. “The forecast isn’t as big, but it’s still awfully big.”

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