|Dec 01, 2012 --
In March 2011, the Crescent City Harbor in Del Norte County, suffered major damage from the tsunami that resulted from the 8.9 earthquake in Japan. Although several thousand miles away from Japan, the tsunami destroyed the Crescent City Harbor. Eight foot waves and strong currents led to over 60 boats being damaged and another 16 were sunk or capsized. The five interior docks at the harbor were washed away, a large amount of sediment was deposited into the harbor, the rock slope protection was damaged, five people were swept out to sea and one died as a result. The governor declared a state of emergency for Del Norte County and once all the damage was surveyed, the final price tag on repairs exceeded $55 million.
The Crescent City Harbor is a major commercial fishing port for the county and northern California, and serves as home base for several fishing vessels. The crab and salmon brought in to the harbor are transported all over the United States and Asia. With approximately 200 jobs depending directly on the harbor facilities, and an additional 100 jobs indirectly, repairing the harbor was critical to the future viability of the community.
Given the high cost to repair the harbor, the Crescent City Harbor District worked with a variety of partners to finance the project. They received just over $50 million in grant funds from FEMA, the California Emergency Management Agency, and the County of Del Norte through a Community Development Block Grant. USDA Rural Development stepped in to provide the remaining balance of $5,425,000 through a low-interest, long term Community Facilities loan. The district had only a narrow seasonal window to work on the harbor, so while loan documents where processing, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) provided the district with short-term gap financing so the project could begin construction on time. RCAC also provided a revolving line of credit so the district would be able to pay contractors and others involved in the project in a timely manner while they awaited payment disbursements.
Through the combined effort and partnership of several funding sources from state, federal and private sources, Crescent City Harbor District was able to start making repairs on the harbor on schedule, beginning in July. This unique partnership was critical to the district’s ability to move forward on restoring the harbor and related fishing and tourism industries vital to the community. In addition, the construction is expected to create a much needed boom to the economy with 250 new jobs. The new, stronger pilings and docks being constructed are designed to survive a 50-year tsunami. Completion is expected in February 2014.