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Tsunami damage along California coast is estimated at $50 million

March 12, 2011 |  4:33 pm

The earthquake-triggered tsunami that thrashed California’s coast on Friday caused an estimated $50 million in damages, experts said Saturday.

Lori Dengler, a geology professor and director of the Humboldt Earthquake Education Center at Humboldt State University, said the damage estimate may rise.

“It’s going to go up,” Dengler said. “How far up, I’m not going to predict. This is an expensive event for California -- and Oregon.” 

PHOTOS: Tsunami surge damages Crescent City harbor

Officials at harbors up and down the coastline spent Saturday accessing damage from Friday's ocean surge. 

Santa Cruz and Crescent City appear to be the two California ports that were hit hardest. Officials estimated the damage in Santa Cruz at $17 million. Harbor master Lisa Ekers told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that 17 ships were sunk and up to 50 others were damaged.

In Santa Barbara, fierce waves turned the harbor into a tidal pool, sweeping away a city barge that was used for the city's commercial fishing operation and nearly destroying a 200-ton crane barge that became unmoored in the tumult.

"The whole harbor entrance was kind of chaotic for about five hours there," said Santa Barbara Patrol Officer Ryan Kelly. He said several boats were damaged when they collided with barges or other vessels.

In Ventura, a city sailing dock broke off and at least one boat was lost at sea, authorities there said.

In Morro Bay, a dock came loose in the waves, according to Morro Bay Harbor Patrol Officer Cale Moore. He said the waves continued Saturday, even though the the National Weather Service downgraded its tsunami warning on Saturday.

"Today there’s still surges," he said. "It’s still going on here."

On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz.


Dramatic videos from California tsunami emerge

Santa Cruz harbor damage captured from many angles

California tsunami advisory ends, but wave danger still possible

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Fishing boats crash into one another Friday in the boat basin at Crescent City as one of a series of tsunami surges slams into the harbor, breaking up docks and tearing loose boats. Credit: Jeff Barnard / Associated Press