Keehi boaters frustrated at lack of help after tsunami - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Keehi boaters frustrated at lack of help after tsunami

Keehi Small Boat Harbor boaters voice their frustrations at a meeting Keehi Small Boat Harbor boaters voice their frustrations at a meeting
Rick Cowden Rick Cowden
Chris Kromer Chris Kromer
Ed Teixeira Ed Teixeira
Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly three months after the March 11 tsunami, boaters at the Keehi Small Boat Harbor said they are frustrated at what appears to be a lack of assistance.

Their main concern is the docks owned by Keehi Marine Center that broke loose during the tsunami. Many boat owners contend those docks caused damage to their vessels.

"I watched these docks that came apartment and hitting boats and creating all the damage," said Rick Cowden, owner of the boat "Kona Dream." One ledged under my boat, which created my damage.

Cowden believes the marine center should take responsibility for the damage. Damage to his boat was assessed at just under $30,000. But his claim was denied by the center's insurance company, which said it wasn't covered because the tsunami was an "Act of God."

"I know the guys at Keehi Marine Center," Cowden said. "I haul out over there. I maintain my boat. All the boaters know everyone within the community. But you know, in this problem that we have, there's doubt that Keehi Marine should have stepped up to the plate."

As for government assistance, individual boaters might be out of luck. State Civil Defense told them that the damage -- although substantial -- still falls below a threshold set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual disaster assistance.

"It will take a lot to justify," said Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira. "It may take longer to get it approved. So we went with what we qualify for, and what we qualify for, really, was infrastructure repair and restoration."

But would those funds cover any repairs at Keehi Small Boat Harbor? A state lawmaker who called the meeting said she would try to find out what the state's role would be.

"We need to understand what the responsibilities are for the private entities, the boaters and the state," said Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D-Sand Island, Kalihi, Nuuanu, Liliha, Pauoa).

There were no representatives of Keehi Marine Center present at the meeting. Some boat owners also wanted to talk to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which also was not present.

Chun Oakland wants to have more agencies available for another meeting next month to determine if any progress has been made.


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