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Tidal Waves Wreck Business District of Crescent City, California

Mar. 28, 1964 - Tidal waves 12 to 15 feet high, set off by the Alaskan earthquake, swept out of the Pacific early today and wrecked the business district of Crescent City, Calif., causing at least 12 deaths. The death toll was expected to rise as Federal and state relief units moved in to aid the stricken community in northwestern California near the Oregon border.

Sheriff O.E. Hovgaard, who was coordinating the aid work, estimated that as many as 25 persons might have perished in the water that rolled in about 1:40 a.m. PST. The bodies of 10 of the 12 known dead have been recovered.

The number of homeless was placed at from 75 to 100 persons. Their homes were knocked off their foundations in the 29-block business area hit by the rolling waves.

Several persons were in the hospital. Some bodies were seen floating out on the receding tide from the low-lying areas.

A visitor at a motel near the waterfront reported seeing an elderly couple drowned as they were swept away from another motel nearby.

The 12 known dead were 10 adults and two preschool children.

Debris, including giant redwood logs in this lumber community, were tossed onto the roads and streets and into stores. Streets in the city and in adjacent areas near the ocean were covered with mud.

Waves generated by the earthquake left death and destruction elsewhere, from British Columbia to Southern California, UPI reported. The highest wave, 17 feet, hit Vancouver Island.

President Johnson, who is spending the Easter holiday at the LBJ Ranch in Texas, declared Alaska a major disaster area today and pledged all Federal resources in providing aid. The President talked with Alaska Governor William Egan by phone and also exchanged telegrams with him.

The Governor gave the President what damage reports he had available. These were somewhat sketchy because local communications in Alaska had been badly disrupted.


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