Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Aftermath - Tsunami 3/11/11 Brookings Edition

At 4 a.m. on Friday morning I was awakened to the sound of sirens.

They ran on and on.

On the south Oregon coast that long ongoing set of sirens means a tsunami warning.

On the first of every month here at 5 p.m. they test the system so we all know what it sounds like.

At 4a.m. though it takes a while to compute.

I rolled over after a bit and said "Tsunami???".

Still it took a few minutes more to think to grab my phone and check the local news.

And then of course I saw it.

The awful thing happening in Japan and the ensuing warning for Hawaii and the West Coast.

We've had these before and they never pan out.

Our house is high enough on a hill not to be in any danger.

I couldn't go back to sleep though and went to watch the news report paying special attention to what was happening in Hawaii since that can be and indicator for us about what the swell might be.

Around 6  I took a quick roll call of my kids.

Sent Sean a text message to make sure he had heard the sirens and wasn't planing to head out on the ocean for a day of fishing.

Got the reply that he was out of town...inland for the day and his boat and gear were safely stored at his house.

Arik, fishing in Alaska didn't reply at first and I was uncertain of the forecast for them which left me feeling a little uneasy.  I heard from him later in the day and discovered that they didn't feel a thing.

Strangely, fishing in Alaska felt like a relatively safe thing that day.

Collin, I knew was on his way to work in Eugene and well out of harm's way.

Dylan had a day off from school and was safely tucked in bed.

It looked as though Hawaii didn't get much as the first surges were scheduled to come through so we thought it would be another uneventful warning and went about our morning rituals.

As I grabbed my work stuff and headed for the office a call came in from Rich who had been about half an hour ahead of me.

He said he was watching the port from an upper vantage point and had never seen anything like it.  The ocean was swirling and the river was sucking out and surging in. 

Rich is a waterman. He's been on the ocean in some way most of his life. He knows it well.

In all the strangeness I did something I rarely do.

I left my camera gear at home.

So the few that I have here from Friday are from my phone.

The port was closed early on to all but essential personnel so we all had a distant view.

I still don't really have words for what I saw.  I've never seen anything like it my life. 

Watching our river suck out to a such a shallow level that we could almost see the bottom and then rushing in a rapid surging rate.

The confused swirling waves.

Here you can see some of the rippling toward the mouth of the river as it sucked out.

The rocks you can see here are not normally visible
Several really good videos have been posted on YouTube and facebook so if you are curious you can do a search and find them.

Banks, post offices, and even the UPS office closed. 

Many people here either work in the fisheries or know someone who does so there was a lot of interest and concerned spectators who had been sent home from work as their places of work either closed or asked their employees not to report that day.

We spent the day as a community watching, listening to local radio and praying for the safety of the local fleet and emergency workers.

The surges lasted until evening and made for a very long day for most of the locals who had been up since the blaring of the sirens.

Friday evening after the tsunami threat was lowered to watch status the boat owners who had spent the day out at sea to keep their boats from getting battered in port were able to come back in.

This morning I went to take a look at the aftermath and have these images to share with you.
One of the concerns in our port is that there is a campground and a hotel beachfront.  Both were evacuated at 4 a.m. along with any residents in low lying areas.

It looked as though the surges did breach the usual beach area into the campground and parking areas.

The back side of the Chetco River Coast Guard Station...some docks missing.

The crazy tangle of angles where there once was order.

This is for Arik.  When talked to him he said he was glad to hear that their parking spot was still intact.

Well...yes it's there Arik.  But you might want to called ahead for a reservation when you head back from Kodiak.  There's a tiny bit of a lineup of displaced vessels in your spot.

And so we begin to face the clean up.

There's a whole lotta mess out there.

The fuel and oil aboard the sunken and battered boats requires some special teams.

And they were already arriving early this morning.

Just a couple of months ago it was a very different place.

Heck a couple of days ago really.

One day it will look like this again.

For now....
It's kind of a big ol mess.

And yet when we compare it to what the people of Japan are dealing with it seems very small.

Sean got called in this afternoon to be a part of the dive team clean up crew.

He won't be diving but his particular boat makes a really good dive boat due to the flat deck. 

He'll be running his boat for the dive crews to use.

It will likely be a long rainy night for them all again and he's happy to have the opportunity to be a part of it

Counting our blessings,


1 comment:

  1. But for those dedicated and brave individuals of Brookings that day, who stayed on station in the Port we know is so essential to the quality of our lives here, risking limb and life, we can offer only our gratitude, admiration and recognition of the greater loss of property, possibly of life and perhaps the livelyhood of patrons of the port, through their courage, was so averted.