VIDEO: Mayor Arakawa Post Tsunami Assessment and Critique
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-oRPsxSp2s /]
Damage assessment continues across the state following a Pacific-Wide tsunami that passed through the islands early Friday morning. The Governor’s office has placed damage estimates in the tens-of-millions of dollars. Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, meantime, said assessments are still being made in Maui County. We sat down with the Mayor on Monday to gain greater insight into the post tsunami assessment here at home.
Mayor Arakawa described damage in Maui county as minimal saying, “We don’t know what the exact dollar amount is yet, we are still doing assessments. The biggest damage occurred in our harbors. We had some boats that did not leave the harbor, and because they didn’t leave the harbor quite a few sunk,” said Arakawa.
Outside of the harbors, on Molokai, there were about six houses that were damaged. “One house was literally lifted off of its footing and moved a considerable distance,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Flood damage was also reported to several residences in Kihei and in Paukukalo on Maui. “Almost all the rest were water damage because of water coming into properties and debris,” said the mayor.
“Maui fared very, very well. We didn’t have any deaths, no injuries. We did have some tense moments after the tsunami had passed,” said Mayor Arakawa.
During the event, the Lanai baseball team was stranded on the Valley Isle for a couple of days while the ferry system was suspended due to damage at Manele Harbor. “Working with the Department of Transportation and the Visitor’s Bureau, we were able to get them lodging at Lahainaluna. Sunday at 12 o’clock, the got the ferry back to Lanai,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Mayor Arakawa said all-in-all, Maui was able to return to business fairly quickly. He pointed out some areas that could be improved, and thanked the community for their cooperation during the emergency response.
“When we’re waking you up at 9, 10 o’clock at night and evacuating literally all coast line areas that were in inundation zones, we had a lot of really good cooperation,” said Mayor Arakawa.
He said the county will try to work to better deliver restroom facilities out where people were parking their cars on the side of the road. “We did have restroom facilities at all of our evacuation centers, unfortunately, we found out during this exercise that a lot of people don’t use the evacuation centers–they are parked along the side of the hillsides,” said Mayor Arakawa.
The Mayor also suggested that county crews carry bottled water and some food items, to provide some relief for people evacuated to high ground. “Once you’re stuck up there you can’t move and have no ability to go to a store or do much of anything else,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“Overall, I just want to thank everybody for their cooperation. Great job. I guess the proof is in how fast we were able to come back and become productive, and the community is back to normal,” said Mayor Arakawa.