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Cost of tsunami damage to USA leaps

Lost homes, sunken boats and damaged piers caused tsunami damage estimates to jump into the tens of millions of pounds in Hawaii and California.

In Hawaii, the rough estimate combines damage to homes, businesses, hotels, boats, piers and government infrastructure.

The most serious damages were near Kealakekua Bay and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Haleiwa and Keehi Lagoon on Oahu, as well as areas of Maui and Molokai, also lost significant value.

At least 25 boats sank at Keehi Lagoon, and an undetermined number of homes may have been destroyed along the Big Island’s west coast beyond the two previously reported, including one that floated out to sea.

No one was killed or injured during the tsunami, which arrived in Hawaii early Friday morning as a result of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan.

“It’s in the millions in terms of property, but it’s very small in terms of personal injury and deaths. Of course, we’re very, very fortunate,” said Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who planned to visit areas damaged by the tsunami today.

Additional losses may pile up because thousands of Japanese tourists have already cancelled holidays to Hawaii since the tsunami, dealing a crushing blow to the state’s tourism-dependent economy.

“The economic consequences will be severe for us,” Abercrombie said. “It’s going to be terrible. It’s going to be rough. It’s something we have to come to grips with.”

Hawaii residents and businesses have sustained enough financial harm that the state should qualify for federal assistance, including low-interest recovery loans through the Small Business Administration and other associations, he said.

It will take months to clear debris from piers and the ocean floor, and much longer to repair damaged shorelines, said Ed Underwood, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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