By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
Local officials now estimate damage to the Crescent City Harbor from the Nov. 15 tsunami at $5 million.
But the harbor at best will receive only $3.75 million of that amount in state and federal aid.
The new estimate of damage costs is significantly higher than harbor officials' initial projection of $700,000 in the hours after the tsunami and the $1.1 million days later.
Harbormaster Richard Young met with a state Office of Emergency Services representative on Wednesday to plead his case for as much as $5 million reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Harbor Commission wants the two agencies to reconsider their request for reimbursement.
"We are working with the harbormaster, and will reimburse 75 percent of the eligible costs," said state Emergency Services Spokesman Greg Renick said.
Although more damage was found recently, the damage estimate given to the state office was $750,000.
"The numbers can change," Renick said. "We will reimburse the damage that is verified."
Young told harbor commissioners during their board meeting Tuesday that the $1.1 million estimate was "below the FEMA threshold" for reimbursement.
Until workers began removing some of the harbor docks about three weeks ago, they did not realize the extent to which the series of waves last fall had damaged them, Young said.
"They looked fine, but once we began removing them we discovered the concrete was cracked," he said. "When workers took them out, water was leaking from them."
Young blames the damage on "side loading," the side-to-side action of the forceful waves.
The docks are about 40 years old, consisting of 8x8-foot floats styrofoam encased in concrete. Boards are attached to them by whaler bolts, which have been in the water for decades, Harbor Commissioner Paul McAndrews said.
"The force of the waves ripped the docks loose, we found crack in the concrete and sections under water that we didn't know were there," McAndrews said. "We can't reattach anything to them."
As repair crews removed the damaged docks, they saw the cracks in the concrete and missing parts.
"The bottoms were fractured by the waves they went on for seven hours, the force must have been tremendous," McAndrews said.
Young suspects the whole harbor may be damaged in the same way.
Harbor commissioners are seeking an engineering firm to supply reports documenting the damage for the Office of Emergency Services.