March 28, 1964 Gulf of Alaska Tsunami - Crescent City, CA Narrative
Passage from Lander, et al. (1993):
"Of the ten people who drowned, five were at the Long Branch Tavern on Highway
101 South. They had been at home celebrating the 54th birthday of the owner of
the Long Branch, Bill Clauson. On hearing of the tsunami, they went to the
tavern to empty the cash register which had gotten wet from the first wave. As
everything appeared normal they continued their party.
A few minutes before the third wave, a Coast Guard car stopped and shouted a
warning. Water came in the back door and everyone jumped on pieces of
furniture. The floor buckled and the west wall collapsed. The lights went out.
The room flooded until there was just head room to breath. The wave crested and
became calm. The son, Gary, and M.D. McGuire, a patron, helped Mr. Clauson, his
wife (Agatha), Joan Fields (Gary's girl friend), Juanita Edwards (an employee),
her husband, Earl, and Bruce Garden (the bartender) to the roof. Gary and
McGuire swam to dry land and got a boat that McGuire had. When Gary returned
with the boat he rowed to the Long Branch. The water was calm (4th crest?) and
all seven got into the boat to row about 75 feet. When the boat was about two
or three boat lengths from dry land, the water started to recede, pulling them
into Elk Creek. Bruce Garden managed to grab the Highway 101 bridge and saved
himself as the boat passed underneath. Gary, a good swimmer, saved himself with
difficulty but the other five perished (Griffin et al., 1984). The Long Branch
was moved from its foundation almost into Elk Creek.
Three other fatalities occurred in the same area. Mrs. Wright, who lived near
the Frontier Cafe, tried to escape with her three children. Her ten-month old
son, William, was pulled from her arms and her three-year old daughter, Bonita,
was also drowned.
Joyce London, who lived behind the Del Norte Ice Company on Highway 101, had
just made a pot of coffee when her friend Lavella Hillsburg of Hammond Hill Road
and her boyfriend arrived to warn them of the tsunami. The London's television
was not working, and they were not aware of the danger. She, her husband, and
their friends tarried to have a cup of coffee after 1:00 A.M. and before the
arrival of the largest wave. They got into their car but the wave shut it off.
They tried to walk out arm-in-arm but were separated. Lavella, 49, was killed.
Joyce was badly battered, with her hands, legs, and seven ribs broken, and blows
to the back of the head and face, requiring three months hospitalization. The
men were unhurt."
March 28, 1964 Damage Summary
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