Storm toll calculated
Flooding, rain and high winds forced Georgina Gamez's family of 19 to flee from their Kaneohe house at 3 a.m. Dec. 5. The storm tore away half the roof, and water flooded the house and their belongings, even some Christmas presents.
Gamez's family, which includes her 1-month-old twins and nine other children, is now crowded into her grandparents' three-bedroom home.
"All I can say is 'bah humbug' and pray next year, 2008, we can have a better year," Gamez said yesterday.
The Gamez home on Keaahala Road was one of more than 250 properties damaged by several days of floods and high winds early this month, state Civil Defense officials said this week as they tallied the storm's damage. Nearly 100 people sought disaster assistance, and more people might report losses.
"We don't think we've seen them all yet," said state Civil Defense spokesman Ray Lovell.
In Kaneohe, 22 units were flooded at Pohakea Point, a hillside condominium community; there was about $120,000 damage to the worst-hit unit, said site manager Billy Kay. He declined to estimate the total damage to the complex.
Four families were displaced when high winds uprooted trees and tore shingles from roofs opening the condo to the elements, he said.
"Just picture a waterfall flowing into your home," Kay added. "Everything was totally damaged. There's nothing left in that unit."
Loans are available to storm victims
The Small Business Administration is providing low-interest federal disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by rain and wind between Dec. 4 and 7.
Homeowners can apply for $200,000 toward their primary residence. Homeowners and renters can apply for $40,000 for personal property. Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $1.5 million.
Call (800) 659-2955 or visit the SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance for more information. Hearing-impaired callers can call (800) 877-8339.
Feb. 18 is the filing deadline for property damage applications. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Sept. 19.
Maui County officials estimate the storm caused $1.2 million in damage to their island. State officials have not yet released a damage estimate for Honolulu, Lovell said.
Earlier this week, officials visited damaged properties on Oahu and Maui. On Oahu, Gamez's house was the only one destroyed. Thirty properties sustained major damage and 110 had minor damage. On Maui the storm destroyed three properties and caused major damage to 29 and minor damage to 96, Lovell said.
Also this week, the state set up disaster assistance and recovery centers for people seeking aid. Lovell said 27 sought help on Oahu, and 71 applied for aid on Maui.
To assist in the disaster, the federal Small Business Administration announced Thursday that it is offering Oahu and Maui citizens low-interest loans to help rebuild.
"We expect to open Disaster Loan Outreach Centers on Maui and Oahu beginning Dec. 27, where SBA officials will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applications," said Andrew Poepoe, district director of the SBA, in a news release. Officials are looking for a location to hold the outreach centers.
"Having the SBA loans available will be extremely helpful to a lot of people, and it'll be their way out of this," Lovell said. "And hopefully people have insurance."
Lovell said damage in the state did not qualify for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Red Cross Hawaii chapter has spent tens of thousands of dollars in aid this month and is asking for more donations to continue giving aid.
Thirty-five families have received about $30,000 in assistance, said Maria Lutz, director of disaster services for the Red Cross' local chapter. The Red Cross expects to spend $20,000 more for displaced families.