Authorities assess Santa Cruz tsunami damage

March 12, 2011 6:07:56 PM PST
That tsunami wave swept 5,000 miles across the pacific and still had enough energy to damage the West Coast. Federal and state authorities were at the Santa Cruz Harbor all of Saturday assessing the damage from the tsunami. The harbor is closed until at least Sunday and no vessels are allowed to go through.

The total damage so far is at $17.1 million and climbing. Upside down boats litter the north harbor and a good portion of what's known as 'u dock' has disappeared.

"It was a finger that extended to shoreline. It would have been right here on our right side. Totally gone," assistant harbormaster Larry White said.

The port director says at least a hundred boats are damaged and 18 are completely submerged. One of them belongs to Cheryl Bellrose and her son.

"I said, 'Where is the boat?' and I thought maybe they moved it, and he said, 'Cheryl it's gone.' I just fell apart and stood there and cried for like an hour," she said.

The flood of emotions matches the power of Friday's tsunami surges. The wave action hit the North Harbor with such force the boats responded like an accordion. On Saturday, the Department of Fish and Game had four boats and 14 wardens trying to get a handle on the problems that go beyond property damage.

"We are all concerned with oil and fuel in the water. That's our primary concerns for safety and security of water animals and boats," Andrew Haughan from the Department of Fish and Game said.

Boat owners are anxious to get back out on their boats, but that will be a slow process.

"Even 'u one,' what's left of it, is pretty hard to walk on. We were allowed to go down last night and get some of our personal belongings and check out our craft," boat owner Gordon Rudy said.

The Coast Guard only identified one oil sheen and that has already been taken care of. So far, there is no report of any of the fish or wildlife being impacted.

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