Crescent City: “It’s a mess, all right.”

Astoundingly, the mess left by Friday’s tsunami was confined to the harbor…for now. No, it wasn’t 1964, when a tsunami triggered by a quake off Alaska took out the harbor and half the town, killing 11 people. But hanging out there on the northwestern tip of California, Crescent City is “Tsunami Central” for this part of the continent.

Through a quirk of geography, the opening to the city’s horseshoe-shaped inner harbor seems to be lined up perfectly for seismically induced waves sweeping across the Pacific. The most impressive video clips I’ve seen were shot by Bryant Anderson. Both are posted on the website of the Crescent City Daily Triplicate. Anderson captured one clip while the tsunami sirens were still sounding:

Crescent City Tsunami from Bryant Anderson III on Vimeo.

Crescent City Tsunami from Bryant Anderson III on Vimeo.

Friday’s surge, which peaked with an 8-foot wave, had its way with what local officials say had been the most productive seafood landing harbor on the California coast. The next challenge is environmental, as salvage crews wait out the weekend’s extreme weather to tackle the potential threat of nearly 60 damaged and sunken boats, many full of diesel fuel, industrial lubricants and other contaminants. “Every one of the vessels has fuel on board,” said Alexia Retallack, who is helping coordinate recovery efforts for the state Department of Fish & Game’s Office of Spill Prevention & Response. “So every vessel that’s either sunken or currently in the harbor and compromised is a source of petroleum product,” she said. Continue reading