By midday Friday, Crescent City and Santa Cruz were the California cities most affected by the tsunami surges triggered by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.
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Gitlin, a former Santa Clarita resident and columnist who continues to contribute to SCV publications from his home up near the Oregon border, was forced to evacuate his home at 4:45 a.m.
“I had a door knock and of course that startled us. It was the police and you can imagine what was running through my mind,” he said. “We got out of there fairly quickly.”
Gitlin’s home in Battery Point was eventually blocked off, deemed part of the tsunami zone. From a safe vantage point in Brother Jonathan Park, he watched the waves grow and grow – pulling back then crashing forward.
“The coastline where we’re located is a rocky, crackly coast – magnificent, beautiful to look at,” he said. “Rocks are being exposed, then they’re covered up – all wave-washed. It’s fascinating.”
As beautiful as they might have seemed, those waves had done some significant damage by noon with local officials reporting costly destruction to docks and boats.
At one point, waves reached heights of 8.1 feet.
Officials later said four people were swept out to sea, with one possibly dead.
By 1 p.m., Gitlin was still on the cliffs at Brother Jonathan Park, unable to return.
“You can’t throw caution to the wind,” he said. “It’s serious stuff.”
More updates as they come in.