BY DONNA WESTFALL
In between the B Street pier and the lighthouse is the jetty; where you see a smudged sign with the word “DANGER.” Ahhhh….. the sea looks calm enough. It doesn’t look dangerous. Even though there are 3 locks on the gates you simply walk around the gates and step up onto the jetty to enjoy a walk to the end. Let’s hope it’s not the ending of your life.
Will you be swept away and die? Or swept away and have to be rescued? The force of the waves is another story entirely. Claiming lives, claiming boats and mandating use of search and rescue workers and sometimes the Coast Guard.
What is a jetty? In our area, it’s a man made extended structure of concrete and rocks to help slow down beach erosion, and to help in the approach channel in order to guide vessels in entering or leaving the docks.
Headlines like Tillamook (Oregon) Bay bar claims 17 lives in 7 years…. the place at the tip of the jetties where the calm bay waters meet the sea – has been growing progressively worse for about 20 years.
Feb. 2, 2013: Two South Eugene High School students, Connor Ausland, 18, and Jack Harnsongkram, 17, were swept to their deaths.3
Nov. 10, 2010: Katie, 33, and Mike Myers, 34, of Portland were swept away while walking to the end of Yaquina Bay’s south jetty. They were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.
You struggle with the idea that you want to keep the ocean shore the kind of place people want to visit, not over fenced, not over signed. But, you can’t fix stupid. There are already 3 signs along the jetty. One at the beginning of the jetty. 2 more further along the jetty. Do the signs need to be more explicit? Bodies of dead people? Or listing the number of days since the last death or last search and rescue? Whatever it takes, can it be done for little money and bureaucracy?
Supervisor 1st District, Roger Gitlin, brought together people from the City, County, Search and Rescue and Lt. Commander of the Army Corp of Engineers, John Baker. In the introductions it was apparent that Baker is proud to be 5th generation Texan. After 45 minutes of discussion with input from nearly everyone in attendance, most everyone walked down to the jetty.
To sum up, Sup. Gitlin remarked ” I am delighted to play a small part in bringing Government together to solve a common area of concern, THE JETTY. In observing our Federal government, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responding to Del Norte County and City of Crescent City concerns for public safety is refreshingly gratifying. This example relationship between governments should be a model to follow in solving so many of our problems.”
Search and Rescue volunteers mentioned that it costs about $4,000 to mount a rescue. The most recent rescue took place in December.
After the meeting, Mayor Rich Enea said, “I thought it was a good meeting. New signs and safety equipment will work great”.
Let’s hope it’s at little cost and expense, creating no further bureaucracy…. and that it works to save lives.