Tsunami costs cripple West Coast communities


Damage from Friday's tsunami is in the tens of millions of dollars and is expected to climb, according to officials in California, Hawaii and Oregon.

A California official on Monday estimated that statewide damage from last week's surge exceeds $40 million.

Mike Dayton, acting secretary of the state's Emergency Management Agency, gave the estimate after touring Santa Cruz Harbor, where 18 vessels sank, about 100 were damaged and another 12 remained unaccounted for, according to media reports.

The damage in Santa Cruz Harbor alone is estimated at $17 million.

Along the state's north coast, officials at the heavily damaged Crescent City Harbor were still adding up the damage. Fifty-three vessels were damaged, including 15 that sank, said Alexia Retallack, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Fish and Game.

The harbor, which provided berths for more than 100 boats, was virtually destroyed by the waves, she said, devastating the fishing industry in a town where the economy is largely dependent on the day's catch.

A federal team will be in Crescent City later this week to use special sonar equipment to map sunken boats in the harbor.

State officials are still determining whether to seek federal assistance with rebuilding efforts, Dayton said.

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In Oregon, Curry County commissioners voted at a special meeting Sunday to declare an emergency at the county's three ports - Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings - because of damage when Friday's tsunami hit the Oregon coast.

The Oregonian reports that the declaration is the first step in seeking federal disaster assistance.

There's no estimate of the damage to docks and infrastructure. But Ted Fitzgerald, executive director of the Port of Brookings Harbor, guessed $10 million to $13 million. Brookings says it's the busiest recreational port on the Oregon coast. It also harbors commercial fishing boats.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that damage from the tsunami is now estimated at tens of millions of dollars and that a drop in visits by Japanese tourists could have a profound economic impact.

The 300-slip Keehi Lagoon, Hawaii's second-largest harbor after the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, was hit the hardest and sustained an estimated $3.08 million in damage, said Edward Underwood, boating division administrator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. A flyover of Keehi Lagoon revealed boats aground on Honolulu Airport's reef runway and nearby Slipper Island, Underwood said.

"There's debris everywhere," he told the newspaper. "I have a feeling that those [$3.08 million] costs are going to go up once we get into this. We still have to clear all the sunken boats because tugs can't get in there with all of the debris."

After Keehi Lagoon, Maalaea Small Boat Harbor on Maui appears to have been hit the hardest, although Underwood had no dollar estimate of the damage.

"A couple of hundred fish" of varying species also were discovered dead at Keehi Lagoon and Ala Wai Boat Harbor in a mass "fish kill," Underwood said.


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