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Santa Cruz Tsunami Damage Estimate Rises

SANTA CRUZ (CBS / AP) -- Damage estimates increased for the two California harbors hardest hit by last week's tsunami, while one Northern California county declared a state of emergency Tuesday because of extensive damage to its waterfront.

Port Director Lisa Ekers revised her estimate to $22.5 million in tsunami-related damage to Santa Cruz Harbor, up from $17 million, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

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The figure includes the expected cost of rebuilding damaged docks and other infrastructure but not an additional $4 million in damage to private vessels.

Boats are still being pulled out of the Santa Cruz harbor five days after tsunami surges caused millions of dollars in damage to the docks, and now port officials are hoping for a federal disaster declaration.

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

The first step in getting federal money is an assessment by FEMA. "The disaster declaration process begins with a preliminary damage assessment where we come out and verify the damage that occurred," said Casey Deshong, the FEMA officer sent to Santa Cruz. "Then the governor may make a request to the president, and in that request he would use the data that was attained from this visit."

"We had originally reported that we had 18 sunken vessels, but the updated information on that is that 13 vessels were sunken," said Ekers. "Of those, seven have been raised so far."

Nine vessels are still unaccounted for.

Crews spread boom, or floating dams, to contain any spilled oil on the water's surface, but officials said they've seen little environmental impact.

Meanwhile, officials in Mendocino County estimated the tsunami caused about $4 million in damage to the harbor in Fort Bragg.

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Violent surges pounded Noyo Harbor, battering docks expected to be used by salmon fishermen during the upcoming season.

Harbormaster Jere Kleinbach told the Ukiah Daily Journal that 800 to 1,000 feet of docks were destroyed. Kleinbach worried that some remaining docks have been fractured but said that won't be known until divers can inspect them.

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The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to declare a state of emergency because of the damage in Fort Bragg. Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro said he will ask Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state-level state of emergency, which would free up emergency funds and fast-track the cleanup and recovery process.

The governor previously declared emergencies in Del Norte, San Mateo, Humboldt and Santa Cruz counties.

In Crescent City, officials once again raised their estimate of the number of vessels damaged by the tsunami to 63. Of those, 16 sank and another 47 were afloat and damaged.

The inner harbor in the small fishing town was almost completely destroyed.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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