Tsunami clean-up efforts continue in Santa Cruz


The worst of the destruction was in Santa Cruz. On Monday, clean-up efforts continued. Crews recovered one single boat, the "Trident," which had been in the harbor for two years. Trying to lift the boat out of the water has been a long and torturous process for her owner and the owners of other vessels that ended up at the bottom of the harbor.

Time and opportunity are two commodities that once lost, we do not usually get back. For Jody Connolly of Santa Cruz, they are the difference between calling a particular 30-foot boat "home" or a total loss.

"If I had known that it was going to be more than a foot tsunami, which was being predicted through the news and the Weather Channel, I would have easily taken my boat out to sea," he said.

Connolly says they had ten hours warning, but no one in Santa Cruz harbor expected tsunami surges like the ones that hit last Friday. The closest comparison would be like shouting in a canyon and hearing an echo, except on that day, it was not sound bouncing back and forth. It was water, with all those boats.

"Once it reaches the end of the north harbor, there's nowhere for that energy to go besides bounce back and repeat itself, and it did that starting at 8:00 Friday morning and continuing all through Friday evening and into Saturday afternoon. It was one disaster that lasted hours and hours," explained Santa Cruz Port Director Lisa Ekers.

The latest tally is $17 million in damage and rising to port infrastructure, 18 boats sunk, 12 still missing, and more than 100 damaged. Monday morning, state and county officials surveyed the harbor which still looks more like a jigsaw puzzle of boat pieces in places. All that advanced warning, and the acting director of California's Emergency Management Agency was still putting a positive spin on it.

"This event could have been more severe, but the community was well prepared," Mike Dayton said.

It was not prepared enough, however, for anyone now lamenting the loss of time, opportunity and a home.

"Once this boat's out of the water, I think it'll be a lot easier for me to move on, a little bit, and start to restructure my life not living here," Connolly told ABC7.

Harbor officials say people who live in board there should be able to get back onto their boats in two days. They are hoping to get the harbor open to everyone else by Sunday. They say environmental damage from any leaking fuel is minimal, but they still have question among them about why the harbor gave way at one particular dock.

One boat owner told ABC7 that about one month ago, there was a large collision with the very same piling that gave way first.

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