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5:20 PM: Watching powerful waves roll underneath the Santa Cruz Harbor docks, some old and rotting and others new, one longtime maintenance worker this morning lamented the damage left by a tsunami sparked by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan on Thursday night.
“We are just getting our whole harbor wrecked,” Eileen Sundet said. “This is just so sad.”
Sundet, who had the day off from work, left behind her tools and brought along a camera to capture the large chunks of debris floating in the harbor, where earlier this morning a sailboat crashed into a nearby bridge.
Santa Cruz police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said at least 20 boats sunk and more than 100 were damaged. He estimated that the surges have caused $4.5 million in damage to the vessels and more than $10 million in damage to the harbor itself.
No injuries have been reported, Clark said.
Sundet was one of about 200 residents who stood awestruck every time surges of water caused docks to rattle and boats to come loose and crash into each other, their voices competing with the whirring of three helicopters hovering over the harbor.
Manuel Rangel, a waiter at El Jardin restaurant on Capitola Road, said he had not witnessed anything like this in the 10 years he has lived in Santa Cruz.
Shortly after he arrived around 10 a.m., Rangel said he saw the water rush from the back of the harbor and “made all the boats smash into each other.”
“One little boat flipped over,” he recalled.
Robin Gallo, a retired construction worker who lives a mile away from the harbor, came over on his bicycle as soon as he found out about the tsunami warning this morning.
“As we stood and watched, we saw the water rise up and the boats and docks shifting,” Gallo said.
An advisory evacuation order went into effect at about 6 a.m. for beachfront homes near the harbor. Clark said the order was lifted at 5 p.m. and that residents will be allowed to return to their homes.
“The worst has passed at this point,” he said. “We feel it’s starting to subside.”
Authorities will continue to monitor the harbor, municipal wharf, and beach area, Clark said.
Khalida Sarwari, Bay City News
11:27 AM: Two boats capsized in Santa Cruz Harbor and a sailboat crashed into a nearby bridge as tsunami waves hit the region this morning, a police spokesman said.
The tsunami was sparked by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan on Thursday night.
An advisory evacuation order went into effect at about 6 a.m. for beachfront homes near the harbor and remained in effect as of 11 a.m., Santa Cruz police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.
Surges of water caused several boats to come loose at the harbor and crash into each other, spectators said.
Clark said two boats have capsized, and a sailboat crashed into the harbor bridge.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office estimates that the surges have caused about $2 million in damage in the area.
Clark said surges are still coming in every 15 to 20 minutes, and “we’re concerned about the next high tide,” which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
No injuries have been reported, he said.
Authorities are continuing to monitor the harbor and beach area, Clark said.
Khalida Sarwari, Bay City News
9:47 AM: Several boats in Santa Cruz Harbor have gotten loose and are crashing around in the waves during this morning’s tsunami warning, the general manager of a nearby restaurant said.
About 10 boats were crashing into one another at about 9:20 a.m. in the harbor near Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant, said general manager Alfredo Servin.
The diner is right on the water at 616 Atlantic Ave, and Alfredo said he could see also see a lot of debris.
Harbor officials have advised the public to evacuate the area.
“Do not come to the harbor to secure your vessel,” said a warning on the harbor’s website. “Harbor crews are working to secure the area.”
Alfredo said he could see quite a few people out in the harbor, but it wasn’t clear if they were all emergency officials.
He said his restaurant was not open for business.
“We don’t want to put people in danger,” he said. “We have highway and city police advising us what to do.”
Janna Brancolini, Bay City News