PICKING UP THE PIECES
Lingle weighs backup power supply for Honolulu airport after blackout
Big Island damage totals $3.5 million from quakes with raised magnitudes
The earthquake rumbled across the Big Island and sent shock waves to a key part of Hawaii's tourism industry at Honolulu Airport, where an estimated 5,000 passengers were left in the dark for much of Sunday.
Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday at a state Capitol news conference that she is reviewing the need for more emergency power for Hawaii's transportation link to the world.
"I think the airport is a critical piece of infrastructure that needs to be able to operate on its own," Lingle said in response to questions about the thousands of passengers stranded by blackouts on three major islands.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Andino Aliwi cleared rubble yesterday after a chimney collapsed at 2001 Vancouver Drive in Manoa during Sunday's earthquakes.
Yesterday, the National Earthquake Information Center recalculated Sunday's two quakes, showing that the first was magnitude 6.7, followed by a magnitude-6.0 quake, with an aftershock coming in at magnitude 4.2.
They tumbled walls and hillsides, forced the evacuation of the Kona Community Hospital and damaged roads and bridges on Maui. Preliminary estimates for damage to roads, a bridge, a pier and sewers on the Big Island totaled $8.5 million.
The earthquakes turned a massive fireplace at a landmark Manoa home into a rockslide, one of the tremors' most damaging effects on Oahu.
"I thought the whole house fell," said Theresa Wery, owner of the Manoa Valley Inn at 2001 Vancouver Drive. "When the rocks fell, it took part of my roof and the facade on one side."
The lava rock fire stack stood taller than the three-story Victorian structure historically known as the Guild house. It was built in 1910 and enlarged in 1915 by Honolulu businessman John Guild. Wery has operated a bed-and-breakfast in the home since 1998.
Long delays at the darkened airport could force the state to rethink its $2.5 billion statewide airport renovation plan.
That would be welcome, according to Rex Johnson, chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Johnson, a former state transportation director, said upgrading Honolulu Airport is essential to Hawaii's future.
"Honolulu International is the most important piece of infrastructure we have in the state. After seeing what happened yesterday and hearing the horror stories, my guess is that more emergency generation would be moving up in priority," Johnson said.
Lingle said that while she sat in the state Civil Defense headquarters Sunday, her chief worries were getting power up to the airport and to the Sand Island Sewage Treatment Plant. While power came on at about 6:30 p.m. at Sand Island, the damage had already been done at the airport, as airlines canceled flights and stranded passengers were forced to sleep on the floors.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kevin Andrade repaired roof damage yesterday at 2001 Vancouver Drive in Manoa after the chimney collapsed.
The problem was made worse, Lingle said, because with the power out the sewage pumps could not move sewage out of the airport, and bathrooms were closed.
"As nightfall was coming, it was a big issue for us to get the airport powered up. We felt as long as there was light outside, it would be not as much of an emergency, but if nightfall came ... we had generators en route with light to come on in the terminals," Lingle said.
State Transportation Director Rod Haraga* acknowledged that the state has never practiced for a power failure at the airport, but he added the state has had experience with outages and was aware of the problems.
Another weakness exposed by the quakes, according to Lingle, was the inability to get information to the public.
"There are a lot of rumors that take place in the first hours after a disaster, and they need good, solid information and the ability to deal with rumors," she said.
Lingle said the state might consider operating a radio station to broadcast information during emergencies.
Meanwhile, a team of 75 specialists with the Federal Emergency Management Agency is arriving in Hawaii, said Ed Teixeira, vice director of state Civil Defense. Lingle has also asked for a federal disaster declaration, which will help to free up low-cost federal loans and other assistance for people on the Big Island who were affected by the quakes.
In other reports yesterday, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, state health director, said the Kona Community Hospital remains closed except for the emergency room, which is accepting patients. The 94 patients have all been moved to other facilities, she said.
The quakes also damaged one floor of Maui Memorial Hospital, Fukino said, but it was still open and taking care of patients. Engineers are expected to survey both the Kona and Maui hospitals this week.