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Powerful Waves Batter Southern California, Prompting Rescues And Flooding

Surging seas surprise spectators as lifeguards perform heroic rescues amid unprecedented wave sizes.

Large waves pounding Southern California's shores on Thursday.
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Large waves pounded Southern California's shores on Thursday, causing flooding in coastal communities and prompting multiple rescues by lifeguards.

Streets along Ventura's beach communities coped with several feet of water, leaving numerous vehicles stranded. Lifeguards were engaged in multiple rescues, primarily assisting people who had gathered to watch the waves from the sand but found themselves unexpectedly caught up in the powerful surf.

Videos circulated depicting bystanders pulling an exhausted lifeguard from the water. Another video captured a massive rogue wave breaching a low wall in Ventura, causing onlookers to flee and sweeping several into the water. Eight people were treated at local hospitals for injuries resulting from the incident.

In one video, a man and his daughter were seen paddleboarding along a flooded street.

Residents in affected communities reported unprecedented wave sizes. "The waves were big," said Ventura resident Brian Scott. "I mean, I'm a water guy. I sail, scuba dive. These were 15+ foot waves this morning at high tide. Never seen that. We've been here for 10 years."

A high surf advisory was in effect from 4 a.m. Thursday until 10 p.m. Saturday. The National Weather Service warned of waves up to 15 feet in some local areas, with the Ventura County coast and Hermosa, Manhattan, and Palos Verdes beaches expected to experience the most significant impacts.

Cars were stranded on flooded streets in areas such as Seaward and Zephyr, and lifeguards urged spectators to move farther back from the water. Oxnard also faced flooded streets and trapped cars.

Officials issued warnings about possible flooding in low-lying areas, and residents in Newport Beach were advised to be cautious. Sand berms were replenished, and crews monitored water levels, prepared to pump out excess water if necessary. Sandbags were made available to residents in some locations.

Despite the advisory, surfers turned out at Seal Beach, eager to catch the waves. "Seal Beach is kind of like a stadium. Everyone likes to come here. It's an easy, makeable wave... and everyone loves to be pumped to be here," said Jeff Brockman, a local surfer.

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