Damage assessments delay cargo on Big Isle
Barges of goods bound for Kona on the Big Island were either waiting outside Kawaihae Harbor or being detoured to Hilo yesterday as state and local officials assessed the damage wreaked on the harbor by the first major earthquake to hit the islands in decades.
"Kawaihae Harbor has serious issues," said Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency Administrator Troy Kindred. "It's pretty severe. We at this point are uncertain how long the closure will be in effect."
Damage included ruptured water lines and ruptured fire hydrant lines, cracks to sheds and a crack running nearly the length of one of the harbor's two state-owned piers, said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.
The quake hit at 7:07 a.m., 10 miles north-northwest of Kailua-Kona, on the west coast of the Big Island.
"Kawaihae Harbor is pretty much ... as close to the quake's epicenter as you can get," Ishikawa said.
Both Matson Navigation Co. and Young Brothers Ltd. each make three weekly calls at the port, with their first barges of the week scheduled to arrive yesterday.
Matson diverted its barge to the port at Hilo and was trucking its Kona cargo overland via Hamakua Highway. Cargo was flowing by early afternoon yesterday.
"But it's just a little slow," said the company's spokesman in Oakland, Calif., Jeff Hull, noting that the delivery delay should be about a day and will not mean a boost to shipping prices.
Young Brothers, however, was keeping its barge waiting just outside the harbor yesterday in hopes of officials clearing its pier for use, said Gary Ines, port manager for the company at the harbor.
"It's out there just sitting yet until we make a final decision where it'll go," he said.
Ishikawa said it was too early to estimate the cost to fix the harbor's piers.
An official assessment of the damage was expected early today.
Freelance writer Karin Stanton in Kailua-Kona contributed to this report.