Our View: Unwelcomed disaster offers us a challenge

November 15, 2006 11:00 pm

Early Wednesday morning, most of us caught a briefs news report about the undersea earthquake between Japan and Russia and fears of a tsunami. Thousands of people living along northern Japan's Pacific coast fled to higher ground after a warning of waves up to two yards high was issued.

Little did anyone suspect that more than 2,000 miles away, we'd feel the effects of that event by mid-afternoon.

Indeed, the first surge struck the California coastline about 11:40 a.m. It was a mere six inches high.

But the surge that followed and struck the shore shortly after 2 p.m. was much higher – and far more destructive. It wiped away docks, left boats adrift on the ocean and set boats atop other craft, reminiscent of a Midwestern tornado tossing a tractor atop a pickup truck.

All of us can be grateful that no one was hurt in the tidal surge. While some people were left stranded on floating boats, it is truly a miracle that lives were not lost and that no one was rushed to a hospital.

The tidal surge couldn't come at a worse time for the harbor. Struggling with financing and attempting to recover from the New Year's weekend storms, the harbor hardly needs more repairs to spend money on. After all, the harbor's main focus only recently had turned to integrating tourism with the working facility. As the fishing industry declines, this transition is necessary for the area's long-term economic health.

While no disaster ever is welcomed, the community must seize Wednesday's events as a challenge to move the harbor closer to that goal.

To that end, we call upon Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare the harbor a disaster area. This will open the way for much-needed funding that the harbor must have for reconstruction.

As rebuilding, we call upon the Harbor Commission to use this as an opportunity to move forward on its master plan. While much of the harbor will remain as is, enough damage has occurred that some changes can occur to make the facility more attractive to tourists and those local residents not involved in the fishing industry.

For Crescent City, the harbor is iconic. It is our history. This morning, it is our news. In the weeks and months of recovery ahead, let us make it our future.