From Tsunami to Flooding

Most residents know the facts, but for those whose families were not in Del Norte County in the early morning hours of that Good Friday: The quake that shook Prince William Sound, Alaska and generated the tsunami registered 8.5 on the Pasadena scale. At the time, it was the most severe quake recorded in North America.

Its waves reached Crescent City at 12:04 a.m. Police officers, deputies, highway patrolmen, firemen, U.S. Coast Guard and volunteer citizens saved many lives. In some cases, those rescued never knew who had helped them.

As the waves were wreaking havoc, some residents drove to the scene to help or observe, only to be caught up in the next wave. When the series of waves subsided in Crescent City, 11 had died and three were missing. A Klamath resident also died.

Seaside Hospital, then Crescent City’s medical facility, received 12 in-patient and 12 out-patient flood victims. The facility’s telephones were out for about four hours as frantic loved ones tried to locate the missing.

Although the newest part of the harbor in 1964, was in better shape, it too sustained extensive damage. Much of the damage came from huge logs and the concrete, 40-ton doluses that acted as battering rams as they washed like toothpicks through the town.

Assistant County Engineer Cliff Niessen reported that the maximum crest of the wave was 20.78 feet. The waves damaged a total of 289 homes and businesses, damage totaled $16 million.

Financial aid to families reached $51,876. One-hundred nine applications for assistance in Crescent City received $42,922. In Orick three applications received $858, in Gold Beach two applications received $1,265, and in Seaside, 13 received $6,831.

In the same year that a tsunami ravaged Crescent City, rising waters also ravaged other areas of Del Norte County. This time, instead of ocean waves pummeling the land, it was river currents rushing down the mountains and through the valleys that devastated the area in 1964.

During the Christmas months, storms rolling in off the Pacific combined with warm weather caused snow in the mountains to melt and the Smith and Klamath Rivers to swell to unprecedented heights. The 1964 flood was the second 100-year flood to occur in less than a decade.

In 1955, a flood forced residents in Klamath, Klamath Glen and Orick to evacuate their homes and convinced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to declare the area a “major disaster area.”

Hundred-year floods don’t occur every 100 years. Rather, the name is a statistical probability saying that any given year there is a 1-in-100 chance there will a flood of this size.

Though flood gauges were swept away during the 1964 flood, estimates suggest that the flood waters crested eight to 10 feet higher than they did in 1955. According to a Red Cross survey, nearly 850 homes were destroyed and 3,000 people left homeless after the 1964 flood.

Damages were estimated at $40 million. This time, on Christmas Eve, a new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, declared the region a disaster area.

Several bridges over the Smith River were washed away, as well as sections of the Douglas Memorial Bridge over the Klamath River (the bears stood their ground). The only way into Crescent City was from Brookings since the bridge over the Chetco River was not washed away with the flood waters.

Mud, sand and silt caked the roadways and covered the foundations of homes that no longer had houses. Logs and debris were once again stacked along the Crescent City beaches while the Klamath townsite was completely obliterated and abandoned.

The flood of 1964, coupled with the deadly tsunami earlier that year, changed the landscape and the history of Del Norte County forever.

Twenty years after the 1964 Tidewave , Wally Griffin published a book “Crescent City’s Dark Disaster,” chronicling the events and showcasing photos of the natural disaster that killed 12 Del Norte County residents.

From that night came a new moniker for Crescent City, the “comeback town,” coined by Bill Stamps Sr. Stamps Sr. was taken off the air when the waves shorted out the equipment.  “Dark Disaster” credits Mason and Virginia Dever of KPLY, who stayed on the air all night to broadcast the latest news to those who could hear them.


Bread and Butter

In this nation there are three political beliefs to be aware of; Libertarian, Conservative and Progressive. Each are a piece of bread and a bar of butter.

The bread represents the people. The butter the level of government involvement they want in their lives.

The Libertarian is nothing more than a piece of bread, left untouched. It in essence, is a void waiting to be filled by something or someone.

The Conservative is the piece of bread with a single layer of butter spread evenly across it. It is neither to little or too much.

The Progressive’s bread is hidden beneath the layers upon layers spread across it. There is so much butter, in fact, that time usually devoted to the bread is now being spent on the upkeep of the butter.

The Raid that Never Happened

It’s very difficult to believe anything the Obama administration says after the many times it has lied to the American people. The latest involves the death of U.S. journalist James Foley.

The day the world learned that ISIS/ISIL had beheaded Foley, Obama trotted out before the camera’s to speak half-heartedly about what a dastardly thing this was and how the terrorists would pay. Later it was learned that less than ten minutes later, Obama was back out on the golf course yucking it up.

Because of this and to avert detention from looking like a schmuck, the Obama administration went on the defensive. They released a statement claiming they had tried to rescue Foley, but because of ‘faulty intelligence,’ the top-secret raid into Syria failed.

This is where the lie begins. The administration said the raid, which killed several ISIS/ISIL members, was carried out with such stealth that the Syrian government never knew it happened.

Oddly enough, the Syrian government has remained quiet about the deadly raid. However, the second the Obama administration announced plans to over-fly Syria to look for ISIS/ISIL activities, the Syrian foreign minister threw a fit saying such actions would be considered an act of aggression.

It doesn’t make sense. That’s because its all smoke and mirrors meant to deflect any criticism Obama incurred from callously returning to the links instead of the White House.

Billy Myers, 1926-2014

The obituary read: “Wilma Rita “Billie” Myers born March 7, 1926 in Alliance, Nebraska passed away on May 5, 2014 in Crescent City, CA. She was a Del Norte County resident for 67 years.”

Every Saturday morning for years I delivered the Time-Standard to Mrs. Myers’ house in Klamath. She lived across the field from us with her husband, Vern.

When I was younger, rumors swirled around her and Judge Hopper, who live a few doors away and across the street from the Myers. I paid no mind to the stories because I never saw any evidence of any untoward behavior between the two.

About three years into the job I was attacked and sexually assaulted by a mentally ill man. At the age of 13 this caused me some confusion as to my sexuality.

Mrs. Myers always asked me in and offered me a cup of coffee, some bacon or sausage and perhaps a biscuit. Being a teenage chow-hound I accepted.

Over time we talked about all sorts of things including some personal stuff. I had grown comfortable enough to tell her about my assault and how I must have done something to have caused it.

On the Saturday morning following my 14th birthday, I knocked on her door. I heard her call out: “The doors unlocked, come in!”

The kitchen was dark and the curtains were closed in the living room which was uncharacteristic for Mrs. Myers. Once my eyes adjusted to the shadows, that’s when I saw her walking down the hallway from the back of the house.

She looked like a spirit as she moved towards me. She was wears a white translucent negligée with light pink ruffles and a pair of clear high heels adorned with pink fur on the strap.

As she drew closer, I stumbled back against the door. I had nowhere to turn to get away and by that time I wasn’t certain I wanted to escape what I believed was about to happen.

Soon her face was so close that she could have kissed me had she wanted to. Instead, she gently traced my eyes, nose, lips and neck with the tip of her nose.

Next she took both of my hands and placed them on her hips. She guided them up and down her body from her thighs to her rib cage.

I took her hand in exchange and placed it firmly on my groin. She jerked her hand away and smiled.

“Don’t you ever worry about your sexuality again,” she whispered, “You’re a one-hundred percent all-American, red-blooded male.”

I melted at that second.

Mrs. Myers turned and started back down the hall, “See you next Saturday.”

Behind You

Though Sue and I live only a few miles apart, as friends  we generally talk to each other using our computer cameras. It’s all part of living in the 21st century, I guess.

One evening while we were talking, I saw what I thought was an old man standing her hind her. I couldn’t make out any of his facial features as the lamp behind him cast his form in shadow.

No sooner had I realized I could see this man, he moved out of frame. It was somewhat of a surprise as I knew she lived alone.

“Whose that?” I asked out of curiosity.

She frowned, “Whose what?”

“The guy that was standing right behind you,” I shot back.

She spun in her chair to look, but there was no one there. She looked back at me and snorted.

“Must have been my imagination,” I finished.

I believe she had a spirit visit her that night, unfortunately I haven’t seen him again.

Del Norte County: 1957

In 1957, Chairman Bill Boone, announced that Crescent City was prepared for “One of the biggest Fourth of July celebrations in the city’s history.” It was the 28th year that Boone led the Fourth festivities.

He was the impetus for this major event. There is a monument to him in Beachfront Park as it was the heart of the community activities.

The newly formed Junior Chamber of Commerce created a float that took first place in the parade. Their red and white flowered float featured two bathing beauties, Sharon Jones and Mary Hallmark.

Other floats that received awards were entries by the Indian Welfare, the Foursquare Church, the Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority, the Moosehead Lodge and Jobs Daughters. A line of trucks called Industry on Parade was part of the fun.

The crowd of onlookers cheered the procession as it marched toward parade’s end at the beach. At that time, the area that is now Beachfront Park was a sand dune. It was used much as it is now with booths and attractions.

It was one of the warmest, sunniest days of the summer to the delight of the visitors. The major feature was a merry-go-round, where children lined up for this exciting opportunity.

Also during 1957, the redwood attraction Curly Redwood Lodge opened in July. Contractor Warren Richardson was proud to show off the unique features of the building.

The beautiful curly redwood came from trees owned by Tommy and Lucille Wyllie who were the proprietors. It was especially milled for this purpose by George C. Jacobs Company on Northcrest Drive.

The 26 units plus owner’s apartment featured television, electric heat and pure well water. It was the newest and most modern building in the county. All the redwood came from one tree that was felled in Klamath Glen in 1952.

It was a rare tree in that it was curly right to the tips of the branches. The tree was 85 feet tall, and over 18 feet in circumference.

It was a grand addition to Crescent City and a tourist attraction.

Finally, another asset to the area in July of 1957 was the Coast Guard Patrol Boat. The 83-foot boat needed a proper place and the harbor needed to construct a docking facility, electric power, water and a rain tight building for the personnel paid for by the community.

Commander Neilson of Humboldt Bay said that ten officers and men would work at the site. This was the culmination of many hours of work by The Triplicate, the Board of Supervisors, Crescent City fishermen and other groups interested in the safety of those who use the port.

The county coroner, Norman Weir, stated that a drowning that occurred recently was “uncalled for and could have been avoided.” The need was urgent and the Coast Guard was advised by Congressman Scudder to expedite the patrol boat’s arrival in the port.