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Tsunami damage estimate for Hawaii now tens of millions

By Dan Nakaso

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:17 p.m. HST, Mar 14, 2011



The damage to government facilities, private businesses and residential property in Hawaii from Friday's tsunami is now estimated in the tens of millions — a figure that's expected to climb, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's spokeswoman said today.

Spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said the figure is a rough estimate that is likely to increase after state Civil Defense crews return from Maui and Molokai. Previously, Civil Defense director Ed Teixeira conservatively put the initial damage estimate for state property at $3 million.

Earlier today, Dela Cruz said the estimate was $300 million but later sent out a press release correcting the figure to "tens of millions." She said the estimate was a "moving target" and that the larger figure was an error.

Abercrombie will visit damaged areas tomorrow, she said.

Yesterday, Abercrombie signed a supplementary proclamation to expand the State of Disaster Proclamation he signed on Friday. The proclamation is the first step toward seeking federal recovery funds, Dela Cruz said. But the Federal Emergency Management Administration will not immediately get involved in relief, Abercrombie she said today.

"Unlike Hurricane Iniki, when we needed immediate assistance, this does not constitute FEMA from entering the situation," Dela Cruz said. "We are very fortunate to have escaped a catastrophe. If we had, FEMA would have been on the ground."

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will be in charge of overseeing efforts to ensure federal funds to help tsunami victims, including loans for businesses and residents through the Small Business Administration and other organizations.

Areas that suffered damage from the tsunami include Haleiwa and Keehi Lagoon on Oahu; Honokohau Harbor, Mildly, Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua on the Big Island; Kahului, Kihei and Spreckelsville on Maui; And Kamalo on Molokai.

Civil Defense teams plan to fly to Maui and Molokai today, where there are reports of 20 or so damaged homes in Wailuku, Keehi and Spreckelsville and another eight on Molokai, said Shelly Ichishita, state Civil Defense spokeswoman.

"The most dramatic (damage) is the Alii Drive area" on the Big Island, Ichishita said. "They found a lot of damage at the Kona Inn, a historic facility with an outdoor restaurant and complex of shops, and about 50 businesses that have been impacted. A lot of it is basically water damage and a lot of stores do not have electricity. One shop alone is reporting inventory losses of $50,000 and there might be structural damage, too." 

The entire first floor of the King Kamehameha Hotel on Alii Drive, except for one shop, was damaged.

The sidewalk and portions of Alii Drive were damaged. Hawaii County's Department of Public Works will close both lanes of Alii Drive between Palani Road and Sarona Road today until 5 p.m. for repairs, Big Island police reported today.

There were also reports that Puuhonua O Honaunau, often referred to as the historic City of Refuge, had sensitive "cultural artifacts" uncovered by the tsunami and Puuhonua O Honaunau has been closed "for sensitivity reasons," Ichishita said.

She did not immediately know what kind of cultural artifacts were uncovered. 

The Ahuena heiau near Waikaloa also had damage to rock formations and statues, Ichishita said.

The Kona Village and Resort, which has 125 hale for guests, had some knocked from their foundations and at least 20 were inundated with water, said CEO Pat Fitzgerald.

Some of the hale are 30 yards from shore but the tsunami reached as far as 75 yards inland at a height of seven to eight feet, Fitzgerald said. 

"The estimates are $300,000 to $400,000 to repair just one of the hales," Ichishita said.

Kelly Edwards, whose two-story, 3,200-square-foot home continues to float in Kealakekua Bay, said a boom is being shipped to the Big Island from Oahu tomorrow to surround the remains of her five-bedroom, five-bath house that was swept out into the bay by the tsunami.

She had no estimate of what it will cost to surround her house and eventually scuttle or salvage it.

"I have no idea of the cost," she said from her home in Salinas, Calif. "Right now the focus is on preserving the bay."





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