Calif., Ore. sustained most US damage from tsunami

Mar 12, 2011

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. —

The tsunami warnings moved faster than the waves, giving millions of people across the Pacific hours to flee to higher ground. Now they are left to clean up what the waves had wrought: Destroyed docks and damaged boats.

A deadly tsunami generated by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan raced across the Pacific on Friday and into marinas and harbors in Hawaii and on the West Coast, sending boats crashing into one another, carrying some out to sea and demolishing docks.

The damage - the most severe in two seaside towns along the Oregon-California border - was estimated to be in the millions.

"This is just devastating. I never thought I'd see this again," said Ted Scott, a retired mill worker who lived in Crescent City, Calif., when a 1964 tsunami killed 11 people, 17 total along the West Coast.

Still, there was relief that the destruction in the U.S. was nothing like that in Japan. The offshore quake pushed water onto land, sometimes miles inland, sweeping away boats, cars, homes and people. Hundreds are dead.

"With everything that could have happened and did happen in Japan, we're just thankful that nothing else happened," said Sabrina Skiles, whose beachfront house in Maui was left unscathed.

The warnings - the second major one for the region in a year - and the response showed how far the earthquake-prone Pacific Rim had come since a deadly tsunami caught much of Asia by surprise in 2004.

"That was a different era," said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. "We got the warning out very quickly. It would not have been possible to do it that fast in 2004."

Within 10 minutes after Japan was shaken by its biggest earthquake in recorded history, the center had issued its warning. As a tsunami raced east at 500 mph - as fast as a jetliner - the first sirens began sounding across Hawaii late Thursday.

Police went through the tourist mecca of Waikiki, warning of an approaching tsunami. Hotels moved tourists from lower floors to upper levels. Some tourists ended up spending the night in their cars.

Across the islands, people stocked up on bottled water, canned foods and toilet paper. Authorities opened buildings to people fleeing low-lying areas. Fishermen took their boats out to sea, away from harbors and marinas where the waves would be most intense.

Residents did the same last February, when an 8.8-magnitude quake in Chile prompted tsunami warnings. The waves did little damage then.

Early Friday, the tsunami waves reached Hawaii, tossing boats in Honolulu. The water covered beachfront roads and rushed into hotels on the Big Island. The waves carried a house out to sea. Seven-foot waves flooded low-lying areas in Maui.

Many other Pacific islands also evacuated their shorelines for a time. In Guam, the waves broke two U.S. Navy submarines from their moorings, but tug boats brought them back to their pier.

In Oregon, the first swells to hit the U.S. mainland were barely noticeable.

Sirens pierced the air in Seaside, a popular tourist town near the Washington state line. Restaurants, gift shops and other beachfront businesses stayed shuttered. Some residents moved to the hills nearby, gathering behind a house.

Residents along coastlines from Washing to California fled to higher ground at the approach of the waves, waiting until the all-clear to return.

Albert Wood said he and his wife decided to leave their home late Thursday night after watching news about the Japan quake - the fifth-largest earthquake since 1900.

Wood was expecting the waves to get bigger and more intense than what he saw. Still, he shook his head as the cars lining the hills began to drive west, into the lowlands adjacent to the shore.

"Just if you ask me, they're being too bold," Wood said. "It's still early. They're just not being cautious."

Outside Brookings, Ore., just north of the California border, four people went to a beach to watch the waves and were swept into the sea. Two got out on their own, and the others were rescued, authorities said.

Brookings harbor saw the worst reported damage in the state with half the facility destroyed and 10 boats sunk, Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said.

"The port is in total disarray," he said

In Crescent City, Calif., miles to the south, Coast Guard spent seven hours of fruitless searching for a man who was swept out to sea. He was taking photos near the mouth of the Klamath River. Two people with him jumped in to rescue him, and were able to get back to land, authorities said.

An 8-foot wave rushed into the harbor, destroying about 35 boats and ripping chunks off the wooden docks, as marina workers and fishermen scrambled between surges to secure property. Officials estimated millions of dollars in damage.

When the water returned, someone would yell "Here comes another one!" to clear the area.

Scott, the retired mill worker, watched the water pour into the harbor.

"I watched the docks bust apart. It buckled like a graham cracker," he said.

The waves had not made it over a 20-foot break wall protecting the rest of the city. No serious injuries were reported.

A veteran Coast Guard pilot who flew a search and rescue mission over the roiling ocean for six hours said he had never seen anything like it.

"Even from the air, you could actually smell the mud from the ocean floor. As it flowed, you saw the blackness of the water because it was all mixing together," said Lt. Cmdr. Brent Bergan.

On the central coast in Santa Cruz, loose fishing boats crashed into one another and docks broke away from the shore. The water rushed out as quickly as it poured in, leaving the boats tipped over in mud.

Some surfers ignored evacuation warnings and took advantage of the waves ahead of the tsunami.

"The tides are right, the swell is good, the weather is good, the tsunami is there," said William Hill, an off-duty California trooper. "We're going out."

Scientists warned that the first tsunami waves are not always the strongest. The threat can last for several hours and people should watch out for strong currents.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Ken Hudnut said residents along the coast should heed any calls for evacuation.

"Do the right thing," Hudnut said. "Be safe."

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Sound Seismic7543 15th Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98117

Mary Ellen and I are both extremely pleased with the work that Matt and Richard did.  Please pass on my personal "thank you" to each of them. 

We were pleased with the amount of clean-up that was done at the end of each day. 

Even with your discovery of unforeseen conditions that necessitated additional framing, it was still done within a very reasonable time-frame.  My overall experience with Sound Seismic has been very positive and we will recommend your services to our circle of friends and family.

Again, thank you for a very "enjoyable" experience!

Mark and Mary Ellen Whitesell, Ballard, Seattle

 

 

I wish to praise SOUND SEISMIC for the earthquake retrofit they completed on my home. From the estimate to the finished job, Leif and his crew were professional, hard working, pleasant and exceptionally CLEAN. They handled the permit and inspections seamlessly. Office support from Elizabeth was equally professional, reliable and fast. I can't describe everything so I'll just say the whole experience was great.

Kristin Hill, Wallingford, Seattle

 

 

Sound Seismic was professional and they came when they said they were going to come. They came early and they called me to ask if it was okay to start the work earlier. They explained everything to me. It seemed like a reasonable price for the work because I had read other people’s descriptions on retrofitting on Angies list. The price seemed right in line with what I was expecting.
 
Sarah Morken, Tacoma
 
 
 

 

We recently had Sound Seismic do our earthquake retrofit. I cannot compliment enough the very professional job they did. Leif Jackson, the owner, sat with us for two hours answering questions and explaining how earthquakes work. He was completely above board, not promising more than he could deliver. He left interesting reading material so that we could evaluate and decide for ourselves. The most compelling was from FEMA warning people in the Puget Sound area to do everything they could to protect their homes because of our earthquake risk.

Once we were in contract, Leif sent our information to a structural engineer who drew up the plans. The bid was fair and complete. The crew showed up on the date the job started and completely it quickly. It looks great. Our new pony walls are gorgeous and the bolts and clamps very reassuring. City inspections were completed for the bolting and then for the finished job. This company is certified and high quality. Our house will be sticking around on the foundation. I encourage you to get over gambling about retrofitting and hire these guys. They are great.

Emily Elliott, Queen Anne

 

The crew kept me informed of their progress and plans all the time.  They told me what their plans were, and delivered every time.  Very satisfying knowing I could count on them doing what they promised - when they promised it!

Martin Muller, Olympic Manor, Seattle

 

 

My experience with Sound Seismic was very good. They were upfront about the work that needed to be done, about the cost and about the specific changes that would be required. In general, they had a high level of professionalism. They were on schedule, did a good job and cleaned up afterwards. They actually returned calls, which seems to be rare with contractors. I haven’t had other work of this sort done before. They did a really good job overall. They were very good about scheduling and estimates, and did quality work. They were one of the few providers in the area who would do the work - I thought the price was reasonable. I would use them again in the future.
 
Karl Bystrom, Bellevue
 
 
 

 

Sound Seismic was the most professional group of contractors/employees I have ever dealt with. They were knowledgable, dependable, and skilled. The project lead was obviously well trained and knew what he was doing, was able to effectively manage and direct his crew and subcontractors. A quality job. Discovered an area behind my walls were my house was not up to code. Worked well will me to correct the problem and professional and reasonable about the change order.
 
Grateful homeowner, Mercer Island
 
 

The Sound Seismic crew arrived on time and got started on this structurally engineered and contracted job. It was estimated to take approximately one week to complete this work. The job was completed in 4 days with great professionalism and dedication to the work completed. The work passed a city inspection with no additional work required. The quality of work is excellent with great attention to detail.

Leon Young, Issaquah

 

Based in Ballard, the 2 man crew of Sound Seismic did a very clean, professional job of installing the earthquake retrofit. I was very happy with quality of the work and the way the crew kept the site clean and organized every day. They stick to a firm 8-hour work day for their employees and offer health benefits, a rarity in the contract world, it would seem. So their bid was not the lowest, however was comparable to a number of other firms, within 5-10%. Very punctual and professional in all coordination and in handling the 2 inspections reqd. by the city. No surprises or additional costs. I would recommend this contractor overall.

Jennifer Dovey, Broadview, Seattle

 

 

Sound Seismic did such a thorough job. Looking at their work lets me sleep better at night knowing my house is now very unlikely to shift off its foundations in an earthquake.

P. Kiraly, Madrona, Seattle

 

 

We thank you for the very professional work done by all of your people that we have had contact with.  The crew working here were outstanding, and we were charmed by your lead carpenter, Matt. 

Our basement has not been this clean in 70 years (the house is 70 years old)!

Thanks again,

the Pearsons

Bryant neighborhood, Seattle

 

 

We had a wonderful experience with Sound Seismic.  After the devastating earthquake in Japan my husband and I were quite worried about our 3 story brick home and decided to retrofit our basement as a way to ease our anxiety and protect our family.  

Sound Seismic's estimate was more reasonable than any of the others we got and we felt very confident knowing that Leif and his team have done many retrofits, including our friend's basement.  Leif was able to explain the process to me, answer my questions, and gave me the estimate within an hour of coming to the house.  

The hardest part of the process was moving our furniture and boxes out of the way to prepare the basement - after that things just moved along smoothly.  I had been expecting huge holes in the walls and dust everywhere but the work was really tidy and not nearly as disruptive as I had feared.  My kids and I were able to stay in the house the whole time, only playing out in the backyard a couple times when the banging was loud.  The baby was even able to take naps in the midst of the demolition!  

Matt was very professional and friendly, he always arrived on time and he communicated well, checking in with us at the end of each day to show us the progress of the work.  He was able to finish the work a half-day sooner than planned and there were no hidden costs or extra changes when the invoice arrived.  

I would highly recommend Sound Seismic to anyone -- they were fantastic!

Rachel Opel, Ballard, Seattle

 

 

"Leif

Thanks for the great work on the house - you've done an outstanding job of prompt, low-impact work - and leaving the job site in excellent shape. Appreciate the attention to detail."

 

Wayne Dodge, Ravenna, Seattle

 

"I wanted to follow up and thank you for your good communication, strong planning and flexibility.

Matt was great. Very professional, low key, friendly and efficient."

 

Urs Koenig, Madrona, Seattle

They did an excellent job. The whole experience from start to finish was excellent. When they came out they told us what would need to be done, how it would be done and how much it would cost. We set a date and they came. They did the work exactly as they said they would. There were no surprises. The communication with the contractor throughout the process was excellent. The crewmember that came out to do the work did a fantastic job of cleanup afterwards. It was just excellent from start to finish. Because of the work they did we were able to get earthquake insurance, which we had not been able to qualify for previously. We would use them again and we would recommend them to any of our friends.
 
George Murphy, Northgate, Seattle
 
 
 

Sound Seismic gave a very competitive bid, clearly explained everything they were going to do, accomodated my schedule, and produced a very high quality outcome.  I highly recommend them.

Gary Johnson, Wallingford, Seattle

 

 

Dear Leif,

Matt and Richard did a great job!  It was a pleasure to meet them. And as soon as I met Matt, I knew that everything would be done 'right.' 

They took extra care at every level: and left everything better than ever.  They were able to remove the siding without cutting it, which is great, too.

I am glad that I got to see how substantial the anchors, fasteners, etc. are - and how robustly the plywood panels are nailed in. ( It was hard for me to tell from the blueprints alone.)

I am very happy with all aspects of the plan and the work, Leif.  

 

David Rosenbaum, Sand Point, Seattle

 

 

All in all, we felt the project went extremely well.  Given the number of earthquakes worldwide of late, we are pleased to have had the work done.  We’d rather not have it tested, but we know we are in as good a position as possible if the ground starts shaking!

Barbara E., Capital Hill, Seattle

 

 

I wanted to let you know what a great job that your crew did on our earthquake retrofit.  They were very knowledgeable about the whole process and answered any questions we had without hesitation. Their work was excellent and they finished the job quickly.  I have done my share of remodeling in the past and I can say that they cleaned up after each day’s work more thoroughly than anyone I’ve ever encountered.  They took obvious pride in the retrofit work they did but also in the cleanup. They saw that as an integral part of the Sound Seismic service.  All in all, it was a fast and painless experience.

 

Thanks for assigning those fine young men to our job.

 

Paul Gustie, Fremont

 

 

Sound Seismic performed an engineered retrofit on our house built in 1928.  I've never had a better experience working with a contractor - thoroughly professional (truly experienced and knowledgeable in their craft), they were also excellent communicators throughout the engagement.  And the cleanup afterwards was amazing.  I would recommend them without reservation!

George Murphy, Northgate, Seattle

 

 

I wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you did retrofitting my home in South Seattle. I was aware that it would be a challenge and it proved to offer more problems than we expected. You met them all and did a great job correcting the rot and damage that happened over the years since 1927, when the house was built.

 

When I arrived home yesterday the basement was clean and organized. It was the first time I did not have to spend hours cleaning up after a contractor. Your lead carpenter and his assistant were a great team. Thanks for all your efforts.

 

Regards,

Patrick Murphy, Mount Baker

 

 

I can't think of a single way you could improve the service of your company.  Yours is one of the VERY best companies I've worked with on this home.

Jeannie Macri, West Seattle

 

 

Sound Seismic completed a earthquake retrofit on our house. Their explanation about what to expect and what we'd get was clear and straightforward; the work was completed as described, as scheduled and exactly on time; clean-up: spotless.

 

Harriet B., Ballard

 

 

"The experience with Sound Seismic was possibly the finest I have had in my dealings with any of my trade contractors. Your crew was knowledgable, well informed, hard working, tidy, as well as a pleasure to have on my job."

Jesse Lee Honor, Project Manager, Northwest Homecrafters

 

 

Thank you very much for your excellent work on retrofitting our house.  We appreciated your careful oversight of the project, ongoing contact with the engineering firm, attention to detail, and clean and timely work.  You really rose to the challenges presented by "this old house."

Mike E., Capital Hill, Seattle

 

 

Sound Seismic exhibited a great combination of skill, hard work, and professionalism.  You treated our home and our project as though you were doing it on your own house.

Linda and Rick T. Kirkland, WA

 

 

Everything looks good. Thanks for the all the work your guys did, very professional.

Cheers,

Stuart Jamieson, Montlake

 

 

Sound Seismic did an excellent job of the seismic retrofit on my two-story house, which entailed quite a lot of siding work as I don't have a basement. The workmen were punctual, neat and meticulous. I feel safer because of their work.

Pippa Kiraly., Madrona

 

 

Just wanted to send you a note to express how pleased we are with the work your firm recently completed.  You did exactly what you said you would and the quality of the work is first rate.  Also, please tell Matt how much we enjoyed him.  Thanks,

Gary Johnson, Wallingford

 

 

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