Japanese tsunami impacts California coastal town

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crescent City, California harbor, May 2007

The tsunami caused by Japan's magnitude 8.9 quake on Friday destroyed the commercial fishing harbor of Crescent City, California, a coastal town still recovering from a devastating tsunami in 1964. Although most of the fishing boats were removed in advance, the 198 docking slips that the harbor had provided for boats, enabling the livelihoods of the fishing crews, were lost.

Harbormaster Richard Young said that the harbor is destroyed. "We're facing not only physical but financial disaster," he said during a briefing. "Our business activity came to a screeching halt yesterday, and that affects the entire community." Councilwoman Kelly Schellong said, "This is going to have a trickle-down effect beyond the lost jobs."

Crescent City's unemployment rate was 13 percent before Friday's tsunami destroyed its commerical fishing industry.

The 1964 tsunami that hit Crescent City killed 11, demolished the harbor and heavily damaged large portions of the business district. Although the city subsequently rebuilt, another tsunami again damaged the harbor in 2006. The city was in the midst of reconstructing the harbor when Friday's tsunami hit. The harbor is surrounded by land and a breakwater built after the 1964 disaster. The tsunami's huge waves entered through a small opening provided for the entrance and exit of boats.

Lori Dengler, director of the Humboldt Earthquake Education Center, says Friday's tsunami was one of as many as 38 tsunamis to strike Crescent City within the last 78 years. She calls the city a "tsunami magnet" because of the topography of the ocean floor that contributes to its vulnerability. She also blames the breakwater built after the 1964 tsunami because it traps tsunami waves in the harbor, causing them to boil and churn.

A county supervisor found the view painful on Saturday as she surveyed the wreckage accompanied by state officials. She is hoping they will provide emergency assistance. "We don't have the financial resources," she said. "We need money. That's what it takes to fix things…. Our poor little harbor."


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Sources

2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami
 

 

 

 

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