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Tsunami warning: Newport Beach closes school, clears ocean and boardwalk

March 11, 2011 |  8:37 am

Authorities in Newport Beach canceled classes at a beachfront school and police called residents with an early-morning emergency recording to warn about the tsunami advisory for Southern California following Japan's 8.9 earthquake Friday.

Officials said that the waves should reach Newport Beach at 8:39 a.m., give or take 15 minutes. Because the National Weather Service issued an advisory, instead of a warning, Newport Beach officials decided not to sound their new coastal emergency sirens.

They did call Newport residents around 4 a.m. with an emergency recording.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake in Japan

"That's actually kind of cool. I'm glad they did that," said Bill Kirby, 43, from Newport Shores. After being awakened by the call, he was wondering if he should call in sick and take care of his house Friday. "It's hard to tell, do you leave your dog at home?" he asked.

Lifeguards were clearing people from the beaches and the water around 7 a.m., and handing out pamphlets titled "How to Survive a Tsunami." A handful of surfers still lingered in the water, as lifeguards warned that they would soon issue citations.

While authorities are stopping short of evacuating homes, they are asking people to stay off the boardwalk, said Lifeguard Captain Brian O'Rourqe.

Videos of the earthquake in Japan

Also, Newport Elementary, the beachfront school on the Balboa Peninsula, canceled classes for the day "as a precaution in anticipation of the possibility of flooding in the area," according to an emergency warning from the district.

Some beachfront residents in West Newport were conflicted about what to do.

"We're not in a good place," said Robert Beaudoux, 61, who lives on Seashore Drive and was looking out at the ocean. "You never know. It's so hard to tell what the change will be."

Seve Bablot, who also lives on Seashore Drive, was leaving for the gym at 6 a.m. and planned to return before 8 a.m. to evacuate if needed. "I'll do whatever they tell me," he said.


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Massive tsunami threatens Pacific Rim after Japan's biggest quake in 140 years

-- Mike Reicher, Daily Pilot/Times Community News