Orange County cities were prepared for Tropical Storm Hilary when it slammed into Southern California Sunday, and it seems the county fared pretty well thus far.
In Irvine, only a few fallen branches and trees were left in the tropical storm’s aftermath.
City maintenance crews will clean up the pine needles and debris on the roads over the next few days and ensure clear areas around storm drains. On Monday, Irvine Unified School District remained open.
Mayor Farrah Khan said Irvine took a proactive approach in preparing for the storm.
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“Our public works and public safety teams were out and about in the city,” she said, “making sure that our emergency operations centers were ready and on standby.”
Anaheim was spared from the worst damage from Hilary as well. The eye of the storm went over the city and poured about two inches of rain.
There, city workers cleared 15 downed trees, and a few power outages were reported. Road debris will be cleaned over the next few days as street sweeping continues. Monday’s street sweeping largely focused on the downtown area, and the city will start issuing street citations beginning Tuesday.
Both Anaheim Union High School District and Anaheim Elementary School District kept schools closed on Monday out of caution. AUHSD Superintendent Michael Matsuda said the district is “hopeful” classes will resume on Tuesday.
City spokesperson Mike Lyster said Hilary’s effects in Anaheim were on par with a bad winter storm.
“We are very fortunate for the way it played out here in Anaheim,” said Lyster.
Orange County Board of Supervisor Chair Don Wagner said he believes the county responded well to the storm and there have been no major problems reported. Apart from 89 cancellations yesterday afternoon when the worst of the storm hit, he said the John Wayne Airport is up and running smoothly.
“The areas hardest hit would, of course, be our canyons, as they usually are. But even there, we had no reports of road closures, no reports of any significant damage. Thank goodness nobody was hurt or worse, killed,” Wagner said. “There are a couple of power outages that Southern California Edison is reporting to us, but otherwise no impacts to the water, gas or the roadways.”
The American Red Cross opened a sheltering location at the Norman P. Murray Center for canyon residents who were evacuated from Silverado Canyon and Williams Canyon in the Bond Fire burn area, and two people sought shelter there during the storm. The evacuations were lifted early Monday morning.
Ahead of the storm, Mission Viejo distributed about 3,500 sandbags to residents to prevent potential flooding, said city spokesperson Kelly Tokarski.
The rainiest spots over the weekend were found in the South County’s foothills, according to data collected by OC Public Works at 58 sites countywide for the 48 hours that ended Monday, Aug. 21 at 8 a.m. The top three rainiest spots were Upper Harding Canyon (4.65 inches), Santiago Peak Standpipe (4.49 inches) and Upper Silverado Canyon (4.17 inches).
“What I would suggest going forward is that there will still be some elevated water runoff. Water that seeps into the ground is going to find its way to the streams and creek beds over the course of the next several days, so although I’m looking at pretty high clouds in a mostly blue sky, the truth is there’s going to be some rushing water that folks are going to want to take precautions,” Wagner said.
“If you’re going to venture near the water, especially the beaches, it’s still time to be careful even though it may look like a very nice day out.”
Wagner said he is proud of the county’s speedy response to Hilary, saying the emergency response teams took care of a “robust” checklist of preparation tasks taken care of before the storm reached Orange County.
“Our public works crew were out in the flood control channels and out in the canyons, the creeks and the streams to ensure they were as debris free as possible so the water would stay in the channels.
“We had our social services agency and our homeless care coordinating folks out, making sure that the folks that were on the streets knew where they could go if they needed shelter,” Wagner added.
In Newport Beach, city officials prepared for Tropical Storm Hilary as though it was a winter storm. Berms were dug up at the beaches and pump crews were ready to deal with flooded streets in some of the city’s known trouble spots, said John Pope, spokesman for Newport Beach.
On Sunday, the city experienced some localized flooding and debris but everything was being cleaned up by Monday.
In Dana Point, the story was the same, city staff was prepared and kept an eye on areas such as the cliffside in Capistrano Beach, often prone to flooding, and some of the surface areas in the city’s Lantern District where flooding has also occurred, said Matthew Sinacori, director of public works and city engineer.
“We used it as cross-training, so when we have a major storm event, we’re ready. We had trucks ready to close down Pacific Coast Highway and we watched our hot spots. When the wind event hit, everyone was here to deal with the branches. We were a little over-prepared but we’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.”
While public works crews were cleaning up communities after the storm, some residents had a little fun with the extra rain on Monday.
Amber Torrealba and Ashley Poshard were at Laguna Hills Skate Park on Monday. Both women are professional ocean skimboarders who were making the best of the storm’s aftermath.
“Yesterday was torture,” Torrealba said of staying out of the water because of unhealthy runoff, adding, “so we bought it to the street, baby!”
Using urban boards they were skimboarding at the park – urban skimboards differ from ocean boards, in that ocean boards are made of foam while urban boards are made of wood.
The women will be competing in the VIC at Aliso Beach this weekend.
Photographer Mindy Schauer contributed to this report.
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