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Tsunami damage in California is around $40 million, official says

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — In the tsunami-battered harbor of this coastal city famous for its surf, Jody Connolly rubbed his red eyes as crews scrambled to pull his 30-foot Trident boat out of the water Monday afternoon.

The hardwood floor contractor had made the vessel his home for the past two years.

Connolly fled the boat when the first, powerful surge of Friday's tsunami rolled in. He watched from land as the boat broke from its moorings and sank while the entire dock crumbled. "One moment I don't feel anything. The next, I'm completely torn up. It's kind of hitting me in waves, kind of like the tsunami," he said.

As residents such as Connolly, whose lives and livelihoods depended on the harbor, tried to salvage what they could, a California official on Monday estimated that statewide damage from last week's surge exceeds $40 million.

Mike Dayton, acting secretary of the Emergency Management Agency, gave the estimate after touring Santa Cruz Harbor, where 18 vessels sank, about 100 were damaged and another 12 remained unaccounted for.

The damage in Santa Cruz Harbor alone is estimated at $17 million. The harbor is housing 58 commercial fishing vessels not able to leave the harbor for at least a week until it reopens, said Lisa Ekers, director of the Santa Cruz Port District. She said she also was working to get 60 people living on boats back into their homes.

Along the state's North Coast, officials at the heavily damaged Crescent City Harbor still were working on totaling the value of the damage. All told, 53 vessels were damaged, including 15 that sank, said Alexia Retallack, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Game.

The harbor, which provided berths for more than 100 boats, was virtually destroyed by the waves, she said, devastating the fishing industry in a town where the economy is largely dependent on the day's catch.

In Santa Cruz, crews slowly pulled sunken boats out of the water Monday, using sonar to scour the harbor bottom for vessels.