Hawaii quake damage is estimated at $46 million-plus; Bush declares a disaster

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 6:45 am
By: News On 6

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) -- Preliminary damage estimates from the earthquake that shook Hawaii over the weekend hit $46 million on Tuesday, and President Bush declared a major disaster, opening the way for federal aid.

Damage to seven schools and a harbor on the island of Hawaii accounted for most of the preliminary figure, said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim. Damage to businesses, homes, roads and bridges accounted for the rest.

"These figures are going to change radically, I believe," because information continued to stream in, Snyder said.

The damage estimate included $31 million for schools, $8 million at Kawaihae harbor, $4.89 million to businesses, $650,000 to homes, $800,000 to roads and $750,000 to bridges, Snyder said.

Gov. Linda Lingle said during a news conference that it was premature to provide a statewide damage estimate.

"I think we're going to see damage that we didn't see immediately," she said, noting that some homeowners discovered roof leaks during Monday's rains.

The president's disaster declaration makes federal aid available to the state and local governments and nonprofit organizations for debris removal and other emergency purposes.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency team arrived on the island of Hawaii on Tuesday to begin surveying damage.

Sunday's magnitude-6.7 earthquake was the strongest to hit the islands in more than two decades. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, and the damage appeared to be scattered, allowing most tourists and residents to resume life as normal.

The quake struck near Hawaii's Big Island, a 4,000-plus-square-mile isle with a population of 167,000. Most of its land is undeveloped or agricultural.

By comparison, the magnitude-6.7 earthquake that struck the Los Angeles area in 1994 caused $25 billion in damage.

The damage estimate is key because it could become part of the state's request for federal assistance.

The quake was the second major natural disaster to hit Hawaii this year. In April, heavy rains pounded the islands, contributing to a dam break that killed seven people. The rain also caused a major sewer line to rupture, closing Waikiki beaches.

The state estimated that the flood damage exceeded $50 million. It is spending tens of millions more to replace sewer lines.