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Tsunami: Much of Crescent City harbor destroyed; 4 people swept into sea, 1 feared dead [Updated]

Eight-foot waves from the Japan tsunami destroyed much of Crescent City harbor, battered boats, closed the 101 Freeway and left one person missing.

KDRV-TV reported that four people were washed out to sea Friday. Three were hurt and one is feared dead.

[Updated at 12:21 a.m.: The Associated Press reported that the Coast Guard was searching for a man swept out to sea while taking pictures of the tsunami.]

Local residents reported that about three dozen boats were "crushed" in the harbor and that surging waters significantly damaged or destroyed most of the docks. Ocean water surging up Elk Creek north of the harbor reportedly lapped up to front doors of the community's cultural center.

Officials were warning residents to expect higher surges throughout the day, one resident said by telephone. Officials from the Sheriff's Department and the city could not be reached. Crescent City, near the Oregon border, was the scene of a devastating tsunami in 1964 which killed 11 people and destroyed 289 homes and businesses.

Photos: Tsunami surge damages Crescent City harbor

In 2006, tsunami-driven currents caused $10 million in damage to the city's harbor. One resident said Friday's damage to the harbor was as bad -– or worse -– as then.

Officials reported waves of 6-1/2 feet in Crescent City and 6 feet in Morro Bay, said Caltech scientist Lucy Jones.

Jones said officials won't know the extent of the damage until high tide occurs later Friday.

"Clearly, very large drawdown of water in Half Moon Bay," Jones said earlier in the day. "We are coming to high tide in a couple [of] hours. As long as we're still growing on tide, we need to keep a watch on the water.... Currents may be very significant.

In Santa Cruz, the waves jostled boats and damaged docks.

Authorities issued an evacuation advisory about 6:40 a.m. for coastal residents and those living along the San Lorenzo and Capitol rivers and other major waterways in Santa Cruz County, said county spokesman Enrique Sahagun.

The first waves reached land about 7:45 a.m. At Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, the swells pushed and bumped boats together and broke some docks, but total damage is unknown thus far, Sahagun said.

"The water is pushing the boats together like a major car collision on Highway 405 or another big highway," he said.


Tsunami advisory: Long Beach residents monitor water levels

Waves in Santa Cruz damage docks, jostle boats like a ‘major car collision’

Tsunami could help clear out dead fish in Redondo Beach

-- Mike Anton and Shan Li

Comments () | Archives (22)

Weird. If KDRV-TV is reporting people swept out to sea, they sure didn't give it any priority or coverage on their website's top news area.

Why are they wasting time and money looking for this moron!!!WHY, he chose his fate, let him drown!!

People like him are just asking for it.

Sounds like a minimal event on Calif coast. Building near the tidal zone is as smart as building in the brush or in a dry river bed. Things are great until waves, fire, or flash-flooding occur. Think before you build.

March 28, 1964 -- the Good Friday Quake sent an unexpected tidal wave through Crescent City drowning 10 while wiping out Valdez and many small towns and villages along Alaska's coast.

March 11, 2011-- the Great Japan Quake sends a well announced tidal wave into Crescent City and a rubber necker is sent off to Davey Jones with his camera.

Then again-- maybe he was a blogger.

are there pictures to show the "distruction" of the whole harbor? anything would help to compare the headline of this article with what actually happened.


How dumb do you have to be to die in a tsunami when you've had 10 hours of warning???

Why is California being so dramatic about this tsunami? What we have experienced and possibly will experience, is nowhere near the level of damage and suffering that Japan has and is enduring. It's one thing to be safe and warn people about the possible danger, but it's another to completely blow it all out of proportion.

YouTube has some good videos of the surge in Crescent City. My parents evacuated early this AM, just before emergency services began going door to door and they sounded the sirens.

Sara, Why is California being so dramatic about this tsunami?
Because it is directly affecting them, real time in the here and now. While we feel for the people of Japan, what may affect us personally is what we deal with. If you had a fishing boat that was your livelihood and it was destroyed it would be hard to put your feelings aside to focus on something happening so far way. We need to be attentive to what is happening to our people here. I do not mean to take anything away from the devastation in Japan, but I am sure we will send money and aid to help them. How much aid do you think little ole " dramatic" Crescent City will get ?

Why is California so freaked out over the tsunami?

Well people and animals live in California and there are alot
of homes and businesses and another thing are are hospitals
and elderly people and mothers with new born infants that need
to evacuate thats why California needs to be so serious about
the TSUNAMI... :(

I am so sorry this happened to Japan ♥ or any place for that matter!

So what do we do? Everyone just live inland like a bunch of hobos?

There is risk in everything. I would rather risk losing my home on the coast than live like a survivalist inlander

CC harbor is relatively unique in its shape, orientation and bathymetry (grew up there and went thru '64 waves living in the "tidal zone"). Large surges tend to refract around the headland and jetty at the harbor mouth, causing constructive interference and exaggerated wave growth into the harbor. Although the beach saw surge activity, the action is in the harbor.

The harbor is almost a perfect natural embayment off the ocean (oriented generally SW), and the jetty was designed to protect it further. Unfortunately, when the surge comes from the NW or WNW, refraction and interference can cause remarkable wave growth.

Still my favorite spot on the entire West Coast ...

Sara, I guess that answer's your question, eh?
While we were lucky and basically spared (except for the ones who weren't), this is a good warning of what could come at another time. Seems like a good reason to pay attention and be a little concerned.
And, yes, my deepest condolences to Japan! I have already given money to the Red Cross.

we are being dramatic sara because it is our families and friends that live there and I CANT be there for them I AM 8 hours away worrying hoping that they are safe and going to be ok, I hope no natural devastation happens to your family we you cant be with them!

"KDRV-TV reported that four people were washed out to sea Friday. Three were hurt and one is feared dead."

2011 Darwin Award nominee.

What idiots wade into the sea to photograph a tsunami when they have been warned repeatedly about the dangers?
Going to end up as DEAD wanna-be YouTube stars...

"...man swept out to sea while taking pictures of the tsunami."

Sounds like "Natural Selection" at work to me.

Concerned for all: Did you check your "Family" Emergency plan and review,cycle rations, and rehearse your personal plan :}

Please post reliable info. where funds can be donated that go directly to the
fishermen that lost their boats and equipment to the tsunami. We must help our countrymen first.

I am amazed that people with all the warnings take things lightly then get swept away how sad for the family of the foolish soul.I didnt know what was happening til I got close to Eureka and turned the radio on.Tsunami was the furthest thought from my mind.The radio stations did a great job on keeping everyone posted all the way to Brookings Oregon all the people were awesome caring and concerned for thier communities.Good luck to all of them in rebuilding.


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