Western U.S. Tsunami Damage Exceeds $50 Million

By | March 14, 2011

Tsunami waves following Japan’s massive earthquake are estimated to have caused more than $50 million in damage in the Western United States, according to local officials.

In Hawaii, Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation that will allow the state to seek federal assistance after Friday’s tsunami damaged boats and harbor facilities, inundated the lobbies of some hotels and flooded homes.

State Civil Defense vice director Ed Teixeria says the initial damage estimate to property operated by the state is at least $3 million, while the damage to private property is still being assessed.

Teixeria says a small boat harbor in Haleiwa and the piers in Keehi Lagoon were among the areas that suffered the most damage in Oahu.

In Kealakekua Bay on the island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island), seven homes were flooded and one was “dragged out to sea.” Nine cars also were flooded, with one dragged into the bay, Teixeria added.

The tsunami that rolled in the day before from Japan severely damaged the commercial side of the harbor and inflicted a lesser amount of damage on the area for sport fishing and pleasure boats.

In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley requested disaster declarations to open up recovery programs for their residents. Local officials estimated damage particularly at Ports Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings exceeded $10 million.

A Bend, Ore., man who sought to take pictures of the tsunami waves died after he was swept into the ocean.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Harbor reported at least $17 million in damage, 17 sunken boats and 50 boats damaged.

The harbor said it has been designated a Coast Guard Safety Zone and is closed to all vessel traffic, until the Coast Guard completes the oil and debris removal operations to address pollution threats, public safety issues and navigational hazards. It noted, however, that the “full extent of damage and the impact to personal property is not known at this time.”

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami losses
are estimated at between $15 billion to $35 billion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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