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Our View: '64 tsunami marked our first disaster

Forty-three years ago today, Crescent City suffered its worst natural disaster. With more than two-dozen blocks of homes and businesses ravaged and 11 people dead, many have pointed to the Good Friday Tsunami as the day from which Crescent City never recovered.

We don't buy it. Much more needed to happen to bring down this community.

Certainly, no one should underestimate the effect on business or the psychological damage that came from the tsunami. Indeed, let us all take a moment today to remember those who perished in the disaster. And certainly it took heroic action to rally the community toward rebuilding.

But arguably during the past four decades, Crescent City suffered far more devastating disasters. The collapse of the logging industry left hundreds without jobs and resulted in a mass exodus, with the city's population actually declining during the 1990s. The shrinkage of the commercial fishing industry left many not only without jobs but a way of life, for in that profession, there is little difference between work and life. Ma-and-pa-owned retailers too frequently closed their doors, as big-box stores crushed downtowns across America during the 1970s.

The effects of these disasters may not have been instantaneously noticeable as that of the tsunami. They may not have caused immediate deaths. But they ripped at the community's heart and soul.

It is not a heart and soul that has been lost, however. The goodness and generosity of Del Norte residents, our friendliness and personal self-reliance in times of trouble, have not left. The tsunami and ensuing disasters may have caused some to question and doubt these values, but they persist.

It is those very traits that many civic and business leaders now are drawing upon to move the community forward economically. During last weekend's economic summit, featured speaker Connie Loden noted those were the characteristics her downtrodden community fell back on as it moved toward recovery. All the community needed was vision and leadership, to get all the arrows pointing in the same direction.

Forty-three years later, reeling from numerous natural, man-made and economic disasters, our community now realizes that we, too, need that inspired vision and leadership. That may not sound like much to some, but simply acknowledging one has a problem often is the first step toward recovery.

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