- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Last weekend’s storm caused at least $1 million in damages to the port of Port Orford.

Port Commissioner Brett Webb says the fleet based in Port Orford was fishing Monday, but damages to port facilities and the breakwater will make it difficult to maintain operations. One key item damaged was the computerized fuel metering system used to supply the 50-boat fleet.

Webb said the port can do a manual override on the computerized fuel metering system in order to pump fuel, but he does not know how they would be able to charge fishermen for the amount pumped.

Webb said damages to two fish buyers’ facilities, a restaurant and lost fishing opportunities amount to nearly $500,000, and damages to port facilities are likely to bring it up to $1 million. The port’s two fish buyers were operating on Monday, however.

There was no estimate on repairing a breach in the port breakwater, which protects the port channel and makes year-round port operations possible.

Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith said the commission plans to vote Tuesday on asking the governor to declare a state of emergency to help deal with repairs. The declaration would open the way to federal disaster assistance.

Army Corps of Engineers coastal project manager Kate Groth said an existing breach in the breakwater protecting the port channel was made wider, which could lead to sand filling in the port channel. The corps will survey the channel depth on Thursday.

Growth says the corps has been seeking an appropriation from Congress to repair the breakwater, built about 45 years ago, but has yet to get approval.

The port is a major part of the local economy, and the breakwater is needed to operate the port year-round, Webb said. The port’s biggest fishery is Dungeness crab, which typically starts in December. The port also serves salmon, rockfish, sea urchin, and black cod fishermen.

Port Orford is unusual for the Oregon Coast, because it is on a small bay, rather than inside the mouth of a river. Boats are lifted out of the water by crane and stored on the dock on dollies.

Webb said waves were crashing over the dock on Saturday, sending waves three feet deep into buildings and boats. Fishermen were scrambling to secure their boats. The storm knocked out electricity, and the crane was not operating on Sunday, but is working now.

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