The sun was shining Wednesday, but the storms that pounded Southern California continued to wreak havoc, with flooded roads, mud-buried train tracks and sewage-contaminated beaches.
The biggest headache may now be for commuters. A stretch of Ortega Highway, which connects Orange and Riverside counties, could be closed for a week.
And in San Clemente, a landslide buried 80 feet of railroad track and will probably affect Amtrak and Metrolink service until Monday.
The slide caused no injuries but forced deputies to evacuate dozens of people from the Beachcomber Motel, perched on a bluff about 30 feet above the tracks. It's now red-tagged as unsafe to enter.
Motel owner John Gabay said he "freaked out" when his son spotted large cracks in the lawn Tuesday evening. He inspected the property and found patches of grass separating from the concrete walkway.
"The indentation kept getting bigger," said Gabay, who has owned and lived at the beachfront landmark for 25 years. "I saw little chunks falling off. Then, all of a sudden, a huge chunk just went. I have never seen anything like that before."
One building in the 13-unit complex stands 20 feet from the gouge.
Gabay, his wife, Karen, and their four children yelled for guests to evacuate as the Gabays grabbed what they could and fled.
"This is my life for 25 years," an emotional Gabay said Wednesday. "This is my business. This is a great loss."
On Wednesday, city engineers inspected the area and determined that it overlapped a landslide that occurred about 1,000 years ago, said Peter Borella, a consulting engineering geologist for San Clemente.
Crews will drill holes into a slump at the bottom of the hillside and install steel beams and big timbers to keep it stable, Borella said.
The landslide forced the cancellation of Amtrak train service to stations along routes from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, affecting about 5,000 passengers who usually take the train on Wednesdays, said Sarah Swain, an Amtrak spokeswoman.
Metrolink also canceled its northbound runs from Oceanside to Los Angeles' Union Station. Passengers instead were being bused to Irvine and caught trains from there. Southbound travelers were bused in similar fashion. Service should be restored by Monday, said spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell.
On Ortega Highway, flooding damaged a stretch of the winding mountain road, which might take a week to repair. The highway, an artery between Orange County and the Inland Empire, will remain closed from Antonio Parkway to the Riverside County line, said CHP Officer Denise Quesada.
Residents in the lightly populated Rancho Carillo community on the road were allowed to drive home, but only after presenting identification. Employees of the Nichols Institute, a health diagnostics outfit along the highway, were shuttled to and from work.
But the trouble was not limited to land.
A ruptured pipe in Rubidoux unleashed about 4 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Santa Ana River, which spills into the ocean. As a result, Orange County health officials closed a large stretch of shoreline in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
Other spills contributed to shore closures in Corona del Mar, San Clemente and Dana Point.
"I hear those surfers are out there," said Monica Mazur, a supervising environmental health specialist for the county. "But it's really not advisable. There's just a terrific amount of bacteria."
Newport Harbor High School surfing coach Scott Morlan warned his students not to enter the water and has canceled four events because of the rain.
"I can't justify putting the kids in the water with the pollution out there," Morlan said. "The ocean right now looks like chocolate milk. If we let them go in and practice, they risk becoming ill."
At the Surfrider Foundation's national headquarters in San Clemente, staff members were trying to keep up with the shoreline closures for Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
"[The list] just runs on and on," said spokesman Matt McClain. "Dozens and dozens of beaches, from Imperial Beach in the south, north up to Malibu. This is the most closures I've seen in any one time. Every watershed is contaminated right now."
Times staff writer Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.