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Obama declares disaster for Hawaii areas hit by tsunami

President Barack Obama declared today that  a major disaster exists in Hawaii and ordered federal aid for recovery efforts in areas affected by the March 11 tsunami.

"Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the tsunami waves in Hawaii County, Maui County, and the City and County of Honolulu," the White House says. Funding is also available for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said additional designations may be made if requested by the state and if warranted.

FEMA named Michael L. Karl as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in Hawaii. 

The Abercrombie administration has estimated that the tsunami caused tens of millions of dollars in damage in Hawaii.

On Oahu, an estimated $3 million in damage occurred at the Keehi Lagoon small boat harbor, where 25 boats sank and two-thirds of the docks were destroyed. Haleiwa and Ala Wai small boat harbors sustained an estimated $263,000 and $32,500 in damage, respectively.

The west side of the Big Island suffered some of the state’s most extensive tsunami damage. The Kona Village and Resort is closed indefinitely and 200 employees are out of work after many of its bungalows and restaurants were wrecked.

Other West Hawaii hotels that sustained significant damage included King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, Four Seasons Hualalai, Hilton Waikoloa Beach Hotel and Mauna Lani Bay resort.

Eight homes at Kealakekua Bay were extensively damaged or destroyed, including a $1.3 million house that was swept into the bay. In addition, the Keauhou Small Boat Harbor, and the Alii Drive area in Kailua-Kona were damaged, including Hulihee Palace and numerous shops and apartment units.

In Maui County, 22 homes were damaged in Wailuku, Kihei and Spreckelsville; harbors at Lahaina, Maalaea and at Lanai’s Manele Bay were damaged; and nine homes were damaged on Molokai.

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