How an ‘ancient landslide’ keeps threatening a railroad, homes in San Clemente
Riders on the San Diego and Imperial Railroad pass through a flooded parking lot in San Clemente on Feb. 24. The Coast Guard has released photographs showing the high-water marks of floodwaters at the railroad. (Photo by Steve Connelly/The Orange County Register/SCNG)
After Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for six counties along the Texas Gulf Coast. One of those counties is San Clemente.
The city is on the lower Texas coast and was hit particularly hard by Harvey, which produced catastrophic rainfall. The result was record-setting water levels, which flooded roadways in San Clemente, as well as the railroad tracks.
The railroad is a vital link between the town and Los Angeles in Southern California — the largest link between the two major cities, and the San Diego & Arizona Southern Railroad, which runs past San Clemente, is vital to the local economy and a critical part of the tourism network.
But in an unprecedented feat, after the water receded in spring, it began rising again in early summer, leaving residents in San Clemente unsure when the floodwaters will ever recede. The high-water marks, measured by the Coast Guard, have been steadily increasing, according to San Clemente Mayor Mark Leno, and there’s reason to fear things will continue to grow worse.
“It’s very bad. We know that,” Leno said. “It’s just a matter of when it becomes a lot worse.”
Coast Guard photo taken on Feb. 24 shows high water marks from San Clemente flooding a parking lot on Interstate 5. The flooding of a parking lot at the San, C. & I. R. Railroad is shown in a photo from the Coast Guard on Feb. 25. (Photo by Steve Connelly/The Orange County Register/SCNG)
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Coast Guard said it will be monitoring the situation as the high-water levels, which are in the hundreds of feet, have been measured in four main locations on the railroad. It is expected that the high-water