BY JIM DOOLEY

In the wake of this morning’s statewide tsunami strike, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has issued an emergency proclamation and will seek federal assistance to pay for at least $3 million damages to state property alone.

Abercrombie said in an afternoon press conference the proclamation is an initial step toward qualifying for financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

There were no losses of life in Hawaii, but state-owned infrastructure, particularly on the Big Island, sustained a minimum of $3 million in damages, according to Ed Texeira, Hawaii Civil Defense Vice Director.

“If it is just that for state property, think what the total will be when you count private property and county facilities,” Texeira said.

Abercrombie praised the preparedness of state and county emergency officials and thanked local news media for providing “comprehensive and understandable” overnight coverage of the tsunami.

He said it was “good fortune” combined with preparedness that left Hawaii relatively unscathed when compared with catastrophic destruction in Japan.

Successive waves that began hitting the state shortly after 3 a.m. were generated by a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan.

Parts of Japan were devastated by the quake and a subsequent tsunami that wielded many times the power of the waves that eventually arrived here.

Abercrombie said he met with the Consul General of Japan here this afternoon to deliver a personal letter, proclamation and flowers that pledged Hawaii’s support of, and solidarity with, residents of the stricken nation.

Texeira said “precious sites” of great historical and cultural significance on the Big Island had sustained serious damage from waves.

At Kealakekua Bay seven homes were flooded and one was “dragged into the sea,” said Texeira.

Two Big Island sites which were heavily damaged and repaired after a 2006 earthquake  were struck again by the tsunami: Kailua Kona pier and Hulihee Palace. The palace basement, which contained valuable artifacts, was flooded by four feet of sea water, said Texeira.

State officials have been unable to visit other sites or prepare damage estimates for facilities at numerous localities statewide, including Maalaea Boat Harbor and Lahaina on Maui, as well as beachfront state parks on all islands, according to Texeira.

He was unable to gauge losses to private property, including numerous boats and private piers that were damaged or destroyed at Keehi Lagoon and La Mariana Sailing Club on Oahu.

Numerous private businesses in Kona and Kohala on the Big Island also were damaged by the tsunami but no figures on estimated losses were available to Texeira.

 

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com