By Don Ford

BETHEL ISLAND (CBS SF) — Powerful winds from the atmospheric river storm destroyed a Contra Costa County marina, leaving residents to spend Thursday cleaning up the debris at the Bethel Island Harbor.

It was a close call for people living on nearby boats just east of Antioch. What was once a marina is now a pile of wreckage. But Harbor Master Curtis Gee and his team say that have not lost faith.

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More than a hundred feet of covered dock was thrown into the air as gale force winds ripped through the New Life Marina on Bethel Island Wednesday. Tamsen Meierdierck was sound asleep inside her 1963 Chris Craft while the docks around her disintegrated.

“I’m on a solid wood boat that is 70 plus years old! I’m in the safest place I could be? I didn’t hear this,” said Meierdierck. “It didn’t seem anything like that. It was raining really hard. I couldn’t see anything.”

In the darkness, rain and wind, she was stuck until help arrived. Soon the Harbor Master Gee and sheriff’s deputies came to help. Gee described making his way to the boat in the darkness.

“The wind was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think! I mean, it was raining sideways,” said Gee. “Blowing so hard, every gust you had to find something to grab onto or lean into it, because you were going to fall over!”

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Meierdierck’s boat was pulling away from what was left of the dock when they finally got her off the vessel.

“We’re safe and everybody else is safe and we’re grateful for everything that the New Life Marina has done for us,” she said.

There’s a reason it’s called the New Life Marina. It is also a Christian ministry that helps people get back on their feet, employing those recovering from substance abuse or financial disaster and those who just need emotional support.
Kevin Quijivix said the job at the marina saved his life.

“I was homeless at one point. I was in and out of psych wards, in and out of jail. And finally someone, it got to a point where someone offered me help. And that help was ending up at this marina.”

A dozen people are starting new lives here. Now that future is looking rocky with a third of the marina destroyed. But Harbor Master Gee is keeping the faith.

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“God has a plan to help us succeed and…” he said, pausing as something crashed in the background. “It’s still moving!”