Mar 23 2011

California City Charts Course in Tsunami’s Wake

By Tamara Audi

CRESCENT CITY, Calif.—Somewhere under the murky waters of this city’s demolished harbor lay the remains of Marty Lopez’s fishing business.

“That boat kept me alive for 27 years,” said Mr. Lopez, gazing out at the harbor where his boat, the Nellie, sank in the March 11 tsunami. The Nellie, like many boats here, wasn’t insured.

Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed thousands and yielded an unfolding nuclear disaster. No one was hurt when the tsunami arrived in Crescent City, but the wave destroyed its harbor, threatening the economic future of the 157-year-old fishing village just south of Oregon.

 

Average Value of Commercial Seafood Landings 2000-2009 (Source: CA Dept. of Fish & Game)

“We’re fighting to survive,” said Richard Young, the harbor master, in an interview last week. He surveyed the damage to the small but vital fishing industry: Forty-seven boats—many of them part of the commercial fishing fleet of about 100 boats—were damaged, and 16 more were sunk.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Young told an official in another city where he had recently accepted a position as harbor master that he wouldn’t be taking the job. “Things are so bad here I just can’t leave,” he told the city official on the phone.

The harbor’s wooden docks are in pieces; chunks of broken concrete are pushed to the edges of the harbor. Masts and bows poke out of the water as divers work to map the underwater wreckage. Smashed boats are crushed against each other and the harbor wall.

Read the rest of the story at The Wall Street Journal.

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