Hawaii County surveys tsunami damage, Kona hit hard

Media release | Hawaii County Office of the Mayor

County of Hawai‘i Public Works crews worked quickly today to clear and reopen Kona roads to allow for detailed assessments of damage, and to clear the way for the public to return to most areas that were closed early this morning as a damaging tsunami approached the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Administrator Quince Mento predicted the damage from the tsunami to homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure in the County of Hawai‘i will total millions of dollars.

Mayor Billy Kenoi thanked residents for their cooperation and calm as the tsunami approached, noting that the evacuation and preparations for the arrival of the tsunami were executed quickly and safely.

The tsunami resulted in no deaths in the County of Hawai‘i, although there was one injury. A County Department of Public Works Highways Division employee was found unconscious early Friday morning with a head injury, and was taken to Kona Community Hospital for observation.

“I am proud of the way our community pulled together to answer this threat, and I am proud of the efficient, rapid response to this event by our state, federal and county employees, “ Mayor Kenoi said. “Our community knew what to do, and our residents did what was necessary without hesitation, and without complaint.

“I am very concerned about the preliminary damage reports that are coming in, but we all recognize that this could have been much worse. We were very lucky,” Mayor Kenoi said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan who have lost loved ones and are suffering terribly in the aftermath of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake,” Mayor Kenoi said. The mayor spoke with Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki in Washington, D.C today and expressed his condolences.

County Police, Fire, Public Works and Environmental Management crews worked with State Highways, the American Red Cross and the county Office of Housing and Community Development to conduct preliminary damage assessments in the County of Hawai‘i today. Their findings include the following reports:

  • Seven homes suffered extensive damage on Manini Beach Road near Kealakekua Bay. Power lines also were downed in the area.
  • One two-story home at Kealakekua Bay was reported completely washed away, and a number of vehicles in the area were damaged.
  • King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Ali‘i Drive suffered extensive water damage to its ground floor, and observers reported possible damage to the Ahu‘ena Heiau on the hotel grounds. Shops across Ali‘i Drive from King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel also suffered extensive damage.
  • Large amounts of asphalt, concrete and other debris were thrown onto Ali‘i Drive near the hotel and near the breakwall at the edge of Ali‘i Drive. About a half-mile of Ali‘i Drive remains closed, from the King Kamehameha Hotel to Hualalai Road.Crews are at work cleaning up debris, and Alii Drive is expected to reopen later this afternoon.
  • Large amounts of debris were also deposited on Kailua Pier, and two vehicles left parked on the pier were damaged when the tsunami pushed them across the pier.
  • A hall at Pu‘uhonua Road suffered severe damage, while the Puu O Honaunau National Historic Park (City of Refuge) also reported flooding.
  • There were no sewer spills reported, but the county Department of Environmental Management reported water damage to a sewer pump station near King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.
  • Extensive damage was reported to businesses on both sides of Ali‘i Drive, including the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, the ground floor of the Kona Reef Hotel, and the Kona Inn Restaurant.
  • The last open county shelter was closed at about noon today after guests who had been evacuated from the King Kamehameha were relocated to a new hotel.
  • In Kailua-Kona, crews reported one single-family home was destroyed, and one suffered major damage. Six Kailua apartments or condominiums suffered major damage, and 19 had minor damage.
  • The Kona Village Resort had 20 guest units damaged when they were lifted off their foundations. Two restaurants at the resort were flooded.
  • The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai reported water damage to utility buildings, pools and damage to a restaurant at the resort.

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