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A night of close calls

He didn’t turn his back, and that made all the difference

Frank McNamara points to a tsunami high water mark while revisiting the spot where he saw the biggest wave arriving. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
There’s a spot on the highway in Crescent City, at Front Street just before you hit the S curve to head over Elk Creek and out of town, where it’s easy to imagine water overcoming land even with no tsunami in the forecast.

It’s like the narrow end of a funnel, the harbor being the wide end.

Frank McNamara is here, soaked to the skin, but still trying to help an elderly couple whose car is stuck on a log. It’s about 1:45 a.m. on March 28, 1964. His hands are on the rear bumper, trying to lift it. The robust 43-year-old attempts this feat with his back to the car, which is why he lives to celebrate his 88th birthday.

He faces the harbor as Crescent City’s signature moment arrives. The 110-year-old town has already been swamped by three tidal waves this night. Now the biggest wave sparkles in the moonlight, maybe 150-200 yards away.

Summit: From vision to reality

Annual economic event is Saturday, April 4

Plan for the future, don’t just let it happen haphazardly.

That’s the focus of the Crescent City/Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Sum­mit on Satur­day.

A couple of years ago, some local leaders created a vision for the community to look like: thriving businesses, lots of jobs and economic development. The chamber and its initiative Action Del Norte have been calling this vision “May Shum Dun,” which in Tolowa means “Our Place of Plenty.”


WHAT: Sixth annual Crescent City/Del Norte County Chamber of Com­merce Economic Summit

WHEN: Saturday, registration starts at 8:30 a.m., summit runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and lunch will be served; $10 to register in advance and $15 at the door

WHERE: Elk Valley Rancheria, 2332 Howland Hill Road

Suit filed in 4-car collision

Defendant also faces drug, firearm charges

A Crescent City business owner is being sued by a woman injured in a four-car, chain-reaction wreck he allegedly caused last year while driving under the influence of drugs.

Brandon John Sanders, 32, owner of Seaside Hydrogarden Supply on Northcrest Drive, is also facing DUI and firearm charges in Del Norte County and drug sales and weapons charges in Nevada County.

Kelsey Mann, 26, of Crescent City, and her attorney, George Mavris, filed suit against Sanders on March 9, claiming he was responsible for the Jan. 10, 2008, wreck, medical costs for her injuries as well as loss of wages and loss of use of property.

“The reason why we filed this lawsuit is he almost killed my wife — she’s medically messed up for the rest of her life,” said Mann’s husband, Lewis Mann, on Friday.

Sanders also is facing criminal charges in Del Norte and Nevada counties that involve guns, drugs and drug sales.
He was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance causing injury and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle in connection with the chain-reaction wreck, according to the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office.

The waves of destruction

Local devastation after the 1964 tsunami. (Photo by Maris Ward courtesy of the Maris Ward family)
It’s 7:36 p.m. in Crescent City on March 27, 1964. The sun is setting on a clear day when the earth trembles about 1,700 miles away.

Anchorage, Alaska, shakes for nearly five minutes. Nine people die as buildings crumble. The 9.2 magnitude earthquake is the second-largest ever recorded.

It is just the beginning.

Mayor hopes for new era in city finances

Budget workshop is set for Monday

The newest Crescent City Council members will have the opportunity to preview their first budget at a special workshop Monday.

It will be one of the first times all the council members will see what’s actually in the city coffers after nearly a year of guesswork that was the result of poor financial management and high turnover in the office that tracks the municipality’s money.

“I want the whole council to have a good understanding of where our city sits as of March 30, 2009,” Mayor Kelly Schellong said Friday. “My goal is that the council gets an education and uses that information to familiarize themselves with the budget process.”

In November, three new members were elected to the City Council, Kathryn Murray, Charles Slert and Donna Westfall. None of them had served on the council previously.


Man sentenced for hit and run

School Board pursues workday cuts

Society reprints tsunami book

‘Dark Disaster’ contains photos, 1st-hand accounts

Wallace Griffin author of Dark Disaster
Today and Saturday mark the 45th anniversary of the 1964 tsunami that killed 11 people and demolished portions of Crescent City.

To note the anniversary the Del Norte Historical Society has republished the book “Dark Disaster” by Crescent City resident Wallace Griffin and is hosting a re-release party Satur­day.

“The new books are gorgeous,” said historical society museum coordinator PJ Estlund. “They are essentially the old wire-bound version re-edited and rebound to be more long-lasting.”

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