Tsunami-related damage in Hawaii is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, but may climb higher, according to a spokeswoman of the state’s governor Neil Abercrombie.
Spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said that after state Civil Defense crews return from Maui and Molokai, a better estimate will become available.
She rescinded an earlier damage estimate of $300-million.
Government officials will eventually tally up the costs incurred by state facilities, private businesses and residential properties from the tsunami that was created by the massive earthquake across the Pacific Ocean in Japan.
Previously, Civil Defense director Ed Teixeira put the initial damage estimate for state property at only $3 million.
A wide swath of Hawaii’s coasts suffered damage from the tsunami, including 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.
However, no one was reportedly killed or injured during the tsunami.
It's in the millions in terms of property, but it's very small in terms of personal injury and deaths. Of course, we're very, very fortunate, said Abercrombie.
Abercrombie, who signed a supplementary proclamation to expand the State of Disaster Proclamation yesterday, will visit damaged areas tomorrow, Cruz said. The proclamation is the initial step in the process required to obtain federal recovery funds.
However, Cruz cautioned that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will not immediately get involved in Hawaii’s relief.
Unlike Hurricane Iniki, when we needed immediate assistance, this does not constitute FEMA from entering the situation, 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 supervise efforts to provide federal funds to help tsunami victims, including loans for businesses and residents through the Small Business Administration and other organizations.
Shelly Ichishita, a spokeswoman for the state Civil Defense, told reporters “the most dramatic [damage] is the Alii Drive area [on the Big Island]. 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.
Meanwhile, Hawaii’s economic fortunes may receive another blow -- thousands of Japanese tourists have already cancelled vacations to the islands since the tsunami.
The economic consequences will be severe for us, Abercrombie said. It's going to be terrible. It's going to be rough. It's something we have to come to grips with.
Ed Underwood, of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, warned it will require months of clean-up to remove debris piers and the ocean floor, and much longer to fix damaged shorelines.