No. 5 is the city's own darn fault. When engineers rebuilt after the devastating 1964 tsunami, which old-timers still recount with awe, they decided to erect a sea wall to protect the fishing fleet from the weather. It works fine in normal weather, but in tsunamis, the very small harbor entrance traps the waves and they churn even harder. On Saturday, the normally glassy harbor boiled with strong currents in the tsunami's aftermath.
"After the '64 recovery, they didn't have the modeling we do now," she says as her phone rings and she prepares to leave. "They made the small harbor more vulnerable.... It's like taking a high-strung person and giving them amphetamines."
Martha McClure was in sixth or seventh grade when the big one hit back in 1964, generated by the Great Alaskan Earthquake. "Tidal Waves Kill 10 in Crescent City," screamed one headline. And "15 Others Missing as Town Becomes Scene of Horror." And "Crescent City Disaster."
"My mom said, 'Let's go see,'" she recounted, "and we all got in the car."
McClure said her lookie-loo family made it home before the biggest wave hit. "It was overwhelming and frightening … for a child to see her community be upside down."