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Climate and Environment

Seal Beach Pier Repairs Underway As OC Beaches Brace For More Rain

Two women and a man shovel sand from a pile at the beach with a gray, cloudy sky in the background. They're wearing hardhats and green vests.
Vicki Davios and fellow volunteers fill sandbags in Seal Beach for residents to pick up in preparation for the next storm.
(Jill Replogle
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As a new storm bears down on Southern California, volunteers in Seal Beach spent Monday morning filling sandbags and clearing sand from drainage points along the beachfront boardwalk.

Meanwhile, trucks hauled away pilings removed from the Seal Beach Pier after they were damaged by strong surf during last week's storm. Waves also took out the pier's boat ramp, which was primarily used by oil workers to get to and from offshore platforms.

The oceanside portion of the pier is temporarily closed until the pilings can be replaced — it’s unclear when exactly it will reopen, a full damage assessment can't happen until there's a long enough break in the weather.

Still, Vicki Davio, a long-time Seal Beach resident and volunteer with the West Orange County Community Emergency Response Team, said so far this year, the damage isn't too bad.

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"We've had some really tough ones," Davio said of past years' storms. "But we all just pitch together and the city comes together and puts out their emergency equipment so we can get all the flooding taken care of."

Where To Get Sandbags

The sandbags filled by Davio and other volunteers will be available for local residents to pick up at the parking lot west of the pier. People can also fill their own sandbags there or next to Orange County Fire Station 44 at 8th Street and Central Avenue in Seal Beach.

Capt. Nick Nicholas of the Seal Beach Police Department said despite the pier damage, flooding in Seal Beach during the last week was minimal, thanks in part to the high sand berm excavators built up between the waves and the city's most vulnerable oceanfront.

"Seal Beach is unique in that our beach faces southwest so we always do have some pretty heavy swells and the potential for flooding when it rains," Nicholas said.

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach were also offering sandbags to residents on Monday.

What To Expect

Nicholas said the city would be actively monitoring for any flooding or damage from the incoming storm, which is forecast to subside by late Tuesday, though high surf is expected through Wednesday. Another heavier storm is headed for Southern California this weekend.

As of Monday early afternoon, storm conditions in Orange and L.A. counties were much lighter than further north where Montecito has been ordered to evacuate — Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc are under a flash flood warning until 4:45 p.m.

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The Ventura County Fire Department warned people to “stay home unless absolutely necessary.” And an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train headed south had to turn back to Goleta mid-afternoon on Monday because of a large tree blocking the tracks.

Caltrans is also discouraging people across California from traveling through Monday.

South OC Coastline

In South Orange County, damage to an already crumbling coastline in San Clemente was minimal last week, despite rain and high surf. A small landslide on Jan. 2 forced authorities to close a section of the Pacific Coast Highway in the city for two days. But the area has historically been prone to slides, said Toni Nelson from the local group Capo Cares, and no homes were damaged.

Nelson said she and other residents had been bracing for the worst after seeing video of the ocean pouring into beachfront backyards in San Diego. But Orange County, including a highly vulnerable stretch of coast known as Capistrano Beach, near Nelson's home, was largely spared the more severe damage to the north and south.

"Capo Beach thankfully survived, I'm hoping we're just as lucky with the next one," she said.

Where To Find Information And Help

  • AlertOC — join to get emergency alerts sent to your home, work, cell phone or email account.
  • CERT — help prepare for and respond to emergencies in your community. Type in your city to get contact info for local Community Emergency Response Teams.
  • National Weather Service — get up-to-date information on weather and warnings.
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Updated January 9, 2023 at 3:13 PM PST
This story has been updated with new information on a train delay near Goleta.