California, Oregon harbors clean up from tsunami

March 2011 News

SANTA CRUZ - The Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor is reopen for boat traffic at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard and harbor officials announced.

The launch ramp is set to open again on Thursday.

Less than two weeks after strong tsunami surges struck the 800-plus slot harbor, causing more than $26 million in damages, officials determined the area is safe again for boat travel.

The reopening comes after a sonar survey of the harbor floor by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration conducted Monday and Tuesday.

"NOAA completed the survey and didn't see any obstructions, that's why we're able to lift the safety zone," Coast Guard spokeswoman Laura Williams said Tuesday afternoon.

The south harbor re-opened Monday to boats with less than 6 feet of draft, while more time was spent assessing the north harbor for pollution and other threats.

The north harbor suffered the brunt of the damaged caused from sea water surges that originated from an earthquake in Japan on March 11.

Minor restrictions are still in place around U Dock, the first dock on the north side of the Murray Street Bridge, which sustained some of the worst destruction in the harbor.

A few existing navigation hazards in the harbor are marked with buoys, Port Director Lisa Ekers said.

A total of nine boats sank during the tsunami and five were in the process of sinking before being pulled out, Ekers said.

Of those 14 boats, 10 were destroyed, she said.

Damage to private vessels has been estimated at $4 million.

Ekers is in Washington, D.C. to attend the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference.

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