PORT ORFORD — The first big storm of the season sledge-hammered the port at Port Orford on Saturday as high winds drove heavy waves crashing over the dock, destroying small buildings and forcing a temporary evacuation.
Port manager Steve Courtier said he was called about 8 a.m. as the storm began to move in.
“We got down here and started sandbagging the dock, but by 10 o’clock we realized that wasn’t going to do much good,” Courtier said.
Waves began hurdling over the pier. When Courtier found two feet of water in his office he evacuated the few fishermen and sightseers, sending them up Dock Road to the bluff above.
All escaped unscathed, Courtier said.
On higher ground, a crowd began to gather and watched as the afternoon’s high tide brought wave after wave crashing across the dock, taking out small outbuildings and washing debris into the bay. The power of the waves destroyed about 60 feet of the boulder jetty jutting out into the bay.
As the storm subsided, Courtier reopened the port. Most boats tethered to the dock seemed to have weathered the storm. But destruction was complete at Griffs on the Dock, a well-known seafood restaurant and mini-museum.
Owners Jerry and Pat McGriff surveyed the damage.
“Oh, it’s just a mess,” Pat McGriff said, picking up water-logged menus and other scraps from the floor.
Jerry McGriff said he couldn’t say Saturday whether they would rebuild or wait to reopen in a new port building that’s being planned.