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In their own words

Readers give their accounts of ’64 tsunami

Bud Pyke outside the Ben Franklin store after the ocean crashed through its windows. Photo by Maris Ward courtesy of the Maris Ward family
Several readers responded to the newspaper’s invitation to write about what they experienced the night  tidal waves swamped Crescent City.

Excerpts from some of those accounts follow, including some people who were in the middle of the action and some who didn’t find out what happened until hours later.

Almost everyone who wrote also expressed opinions about what’s happened here in the 45 years since that night. Some criticized the rebuilding efforts, others praised them. Everyone agreed the town was radically changed in a matter of minutes.

Officers quell prison fistfight

Rubber bullets, gas fired in A yard brawl

A fight involving more than 20 prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison was quelled with tear gas and rubber bullets Thursday morning.

“It looks to be a fistfight between about 23 individuals and they all appear to be Hispanic,” said Lt. Ken Thomas on Thursday afternoon.

Thomas said prisoners suffered cuts and bruises during the 8 a.m. incident in the A yard, but no correctional officers were injured.

“We had everybody treated here on grounds,” he said, noting prisoners were not taken to Sutter Coast Hospital.

Suspect in pursuit says she thought it was a joke

A woman said she thought an officer attempting to pull her over was playing an April Fool’s joke Wednesday so she didn’t stop, prompting a 20-mile pursuit, the California Highway Patrol said.

Sherry Tan, 22, a Singapore woman on a student visa at San Diego State University, didn’t stop until her tires were blown by a spike strip just south of Hamilton Road on U.S. Highway 101, said the CHP.

“Basically she thought it was an April Fool’s joke, because I was in the white car,” said Officer Don Bloyd on Thursday, referring to an unmarked patrol car with no CHP markings.

“She just didn’t want to stop, until she was spike-stripped and then she stopped,” said Bloyd.

He said he was driving south on U.S. Highway 101 near Klamath when Tan passed his car going north at more than 70 mph.
Tan was arrested on suspicion of failing to yield and speeding.

Bloyd said Tan was a foreign national, and could be deported, because a stipulation of a student visa says that a student can be deported if convicted of any crime.

Police Logs April 4, 2009

Tsunami at the stairs

As water rose, she pondered the possibilities

Ruth Long recalls watching the water rise up the stairs toward her family’s apartment. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
In what is usually the quiet time of night when the moon is high and one day is lapsing into the next, a surprise visitor from Alaska climbed the stairs toward the apartment Ruth Long shared with her husband and 22-month-old son.

The residents of all four units above G & G Liquors at 3rd and L Streets had gathered in the hallway with blankets and flashlights to await their fate. It was almost 2 a.m. on Saturday, March 28, 1964, and the night’s fourth and biggest tidal wave was flushing Crescent City.

Forty-five years later, Long still vividly recalls the thoughts that went through her head as she waited with her husband, Dale, their 22-month-old son, Ted, and their terrier, Koko. She had time to ponder the possibilities, because the water rose slowly, and no one was saying much.

“When we were waiting in the hall, I said to my husband, “Is there  anything we can do to survive this?’ “Wanting me to not get upset, he  said, ‘Yeah, we will.’”

She thought of how two characters in a James Michener book she’d been reading, “Hawaii,” had grabbed ahold of a tree in the swirl of a tsunami.

Airport terminal project mulled

Enivornmental documents may get board’s approval

The Del Norte County Airport’s new terminal project may take a step forward today.

Border Coast Regional Air­port Authority Board members will decide whe­ther to adopt state and federal documents indicating that the environmental work for the airport’s replacement terminal is complete.

“We’ve done our due-diligence, responded to all the concerns and are still looking at the same site,” Airport Manager Jim Bernard said.

If the board approves the final environmental documents Thursday, the project will move into the next design phase, where its look, size, details and cost will be shaped, Bernard said. In addition, the airport will be applying for a coastal development permit with the county Planning Department.

The proposed terminal would contain 20,800 square feet of space and be located just south of the existing terminal on Dale Rupert Road. The current facility was built in 1950 and contains only 2,020 square feet of space. The terminal would be two stories high —  a second-floor observation area would provide ocean views.

Plea in drunken driving fatality

Man admits causing death of woman, 19

A Crescent City man pleaded guilty this week to causing the death of a woman when he rolled his truck while driving drunk last year.

Angel Lin Lopez, 23, pleaded guilty in Del Norte County Superior Court to the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after more than half a year of court appearances.

Lopez was accused of causing the death of his passenger, Breena LeAnn Cardenas, 19, in the Sept. 12 wreck.

Del Norte County Assistant District Attorney Katie Micks said she was happy with the guilty plea.

“I think it’s best for all parties involved that it’s resolved this way— as opposed to going to trial,” she said.

Riding out the wave

Lucky fisherman launches his boat in mid-tsunami

Richard Evanow at Citizens Dock, where he launched the Francis E into the third wave. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Crescent City harbored widespread misfortune on March 27-28, 1964, but one local fisherman was at the top of his luck.

He was also on top of the fourth and largest tidal wave, by then safely out at sea aboard the 48-foot Francis E.

Thanks to his fortitude and good fortune, Richard Evanow accomplished what so many others couldn’t, reaching his vessel and departing the harbor between the waves of destruction.

In 1964 there was no inner boat basin, so fishing boats anchored out in the bay and fishermen went from boat to dock by skiff or small dinghy. Luckily for Evanow, his boat was moored at Citizen’s Dock for repairs.

He was no stranger to tsunamis, but the series of waves that began late on Good Friday made the others seem like “ripples in a pond.”

New bill: $900K less for county

11th-hour switch will cut stimulus for transportation

What the feds giveth, the state taketh away.

In a reversal of fortune for the Del Norte Local Transportation Commission, Gov. Arnold Schwarz­enegger recently signed legislation that effectively reduced the amount of federal economic stimulus money the agency expects to receive by almost $900,000.

The law changes the way $835 million in stimulus money will be distributed from the state to regional transportation agencies, and it now forces local officials to revisit a list of road projects they approved for funding under the previous guidelines just last week.

“It’s an incredible waste of resources,” Del Norte Local Transportation Commission Executive Director Tamera Buchanan said Monday. “We throw away our mountain of paperwork and start over.”

For the past couple weeks, transportation authorities worked under the assumption they would receive about $1.5 million in stimulus money through the State Transportation Improvement Program. This funding mechanism allowed the California Transportation Commission to adjust the amount each jurisdiction could receive based on merit, meaning Del Norte County could either get more or less than its estimated share.

New options for tourism

Group discusses new initiatives to promote region

Visitors Bureau Chairman Jim Strong makes a presentation Monday. The Daily Triplicate/Rick Postal
In an effort to promote tourism along the North Coast, the Del Norte County Visitors Bureau is exploring options that have been used successfully in other counties and states.

Presentations this week at the Hampton Inn dealt with four different ways the area could attract more tourists: a geotourism map associated with National Geographic, the possibility of getting the area designated a Heritage Site, an annual film festival and partnering with the Film Commission of Humboldt County.

“The question is, what can we do to promote tourism while protecting the environment,” said Visitors Bureau Chairman Jim Strong. “One way is with the geotourism map.”

The map will be an online resource that includes features and attractions  nominated by communities from here to Mendocino County.

To view more photos of the meeting click here .

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