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Tsunami: Brown declares emergency in 4 counties

March 11, 2011 |  3:38 pm

Jb Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties following Japan's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, which sent waves crashing into the California coast, causing damage to ports, harbors and infrastructure.

The waves inundated some beaches, ports and harbors, destroying public and private property and threatening numerous structures. In some cities, residents were evacuated and businesses were forced to close.

Humboldt and Santa Cruz counties already proclaimed a local emergency and Del Norte and San Mateo counties are expected to follow suit.

Brown's declaration will allow the communities to seek federal aid, if necessary.

In Crescent City, the Coast Guard continues to search for a man who was taking pictures of waves when he was washed out to sea. Two other men also were swept up in the current, but were able to swim to safety.

Santa Cruz officials also continue to brace for more damage as the high tide approaches at 4 p.m.

Police there have closed roads around the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, municipal wharf and yacht harbor, said Steve Clark, deputy chief of the Santa Cruz Police Department.

Already, waves have "capsized several boats" at the yacht harbor, Clark said, and swells pushed and bumped boats together and broke some docks.

And in the tiny fishing community of Fort Bragg, surges of water ripped out docks and filled the water with debris, closing off exits and entrances to the port.

"It's pretty brutal," said Charles D. Smith, a fisherman who owns a boat called Miss Smith. "The ends of the docks are floating around all over the place."

In Southern California, the waves provided little entertainment to lookey-loos who came out by the dozens in Santa Monica and Laguna Beach.

Orange County authorities said beaches from Newport Beach south reopened to the public at 1 p.m., while all county beaches north of there were expected to remain closed until 4 p.m.


Dramatic model of wave's path appears accurate

Evacuation leaves Crescent City a 'ghost town'

PHOTOS: Scenes from the earthquake in Japan

-- Sam Allen, Alana Semuels and Mike Anton

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times