Crescent City agencies are working to tally the dollar amount of damage from last week's tsunami, with the current estimate at about $12.5 million.

The estimate is preliminary, but a finalized total should be coming next week, said California Emergency Management Agency spokesman Brad Alexander. Santa Cruz County took a bigger hit, with a current cost estimate of about $22 million. Those totals include a variety of costs, including estimated damage to public property -- such as the harbor -- and emergency response costs.

”It's like the full bill at the end of your dinner,” Alexander said.

Tsunami waves hit the West Coast on March 11 after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. While there was little to no damage in Humboldt County, the Crescent City Harbor in Del Norte County was essentially destroyed -- 16 boats were sunk and another 47 are still floating but damaged, said Alexia Retallack, spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game. Other vessels sought a safe harbor after the tsunami, with about 25 now docking in Humboldt Bay.

One boat, the 30-foot commercial fishing vessel Tamara, was raised to the water's surface on Tuesday and secured to the shoreline. More vessels will be recovered as weather permits, according to the Northern California Tsunami Unified Command. About 1,500 feet of hard and absorbent boom has been deployed to contain sources of sheen in the inner harbor and to mitigate any harmful environmental effects.


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After damage assessments are completed and the majority of the cleanup is completed, Crescent City Councilman Richard Enea said, they are hoping to install floating docks if federal aid is approved. For now, agencies will continue cleaning up the harbor that is currently fenced off.

”People are just waiting,” Enea said.

About 150 people are currently working in Crescent City and Santa Cruz, including personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Fish and Game, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Harbor District and oil spill response organizations, according to a Northern California Tsunami Unified Command press release.

Excavators and heavy equipment have so far removed 35 cubic yards of debris from the harbor.

The Crescent City harbor is closed at night and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to boat owners that need to access their vessels. For access, owners should contact the harbor master.

Fish and Game aircraft have been conducting daily aerial surveys along the California coastal region from the Oregon border to Monterey, according to the unified command. Aerial surveys help locate damaged vessels and identify pollution impacts. NOAA has also been conducting assessments of the harbor sea floor using sonar to determine the locations of navigational hazards and debris.

While the damage to physical property has been great, the impact on Del Norte County fishermen has also been significant. Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, requested Gov. Jerry Brown waive the one-week waiting period required to start collecting unemployment insurance benefits. The waiver will impact those who lost their jobs or may lose their jobs from the tsunami damage, according to a statement from Chesbro's office.

”In the midst of some of the most crucial budget negotiations in the state's history, this governor acted decisively and swiftly to help working Californians in their time of need,” Chesbro said in a statement.

There will also be a disaster response one-stop shop at 150 Marine Way starting March 21 in Crescent City for those affected by the tsunami, according to Fish and Game. The stop will offer assistance, including a place to find temporary jobs and to apply for unemployment. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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At a glance: Crescent City cleanup

* Sunken vessel recovery will continue as weather permits.

* A survey vessel from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and a contract vessel with Global Diving and Salvage are on-scene to perform assessment of the harbor sea floor using sonar technology. The assessment will determine the exact locations of navigational hazards, debris and shoal water so responders can act accordingly to restore the harbor and make it safe for mariners to transit.

* Approximately 1,500-feet of hard and absorbent boom has been deployed to contain sources of sheen in the inner harbor and to mitigate harmful effects on the environment.

* Underwater assessments to confirm locations of sunken vessels are being conducted. Two contracted dive teams have assisted in the response efforts. Divers assist in raising sunken vessels.

* Significant amounts of debris have been secured along the west side of the harbor for removal and disposal.

Closures or restrictions:

* Harbor access restricted for public safety.

* Harbor closed to the public at night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. until further notice.

* To prevent crabs and other seafoods from being contaminated and unmarketable, commercial fisherman are advised of the following protocol:

* Do not run circulation pumps on approach to Crescent City Harbor or within Crescent City Boat Harbor.

* Do not pull crab pots or other traps up through water if a visible sheen is present.

* Safety zone in place for Crescent Harbor; no movement without consent of USCG.

* Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., C, D, E, and F docks are open to owners of vessels within the boomed off area. Vessel owners should contact Coast Guard Auxiliary members located at the Harbor Office to schedule a visit. For emergencies only, owners wishing to access their vessels outside of that time frame may contact the Coast Guard. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

* Access restrictions to A-dock have been eased and personnel floatation devices are strongly advised.

Boat owners: Crescent City Harbor asks affected boat owners to contact the harbor at 707-464-6174, ext. 22, to provide the following information:

* Boat name

* Official number/vin

* Fuel capacity

* Actual fuel onboard

* All contact information

Wildlife: No observed wildlife impacts at this time. Assessment will continue.

Crews deployed: U.S. Coast Guard, California Fish and Game, Harbor District Personnel, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, oil spill response organizations

Source: U.S. Coast Guard

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Staff writer Allison White can be reached at 441-0506 or awhite@times-standard.com.