New funding to fix tsunami damage at Oahu harbor

Tom Wakefield
Tom Wakefield
Ed Underwood from the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation
Ed Underwood from the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation

KEEHI SMALL BOAT HARBOR (HawaiiNewsNow) - New federal funding will help to repair some of the damage left behind by last year's tsunami. Hawaii will receive a $1.48 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Two broken piers will be fixed at Keehi Small Boat Harbor, but other problems, like sunken ships, still remain.

Tom Wakefield vividly remembers the morning of March 11, 2011. He brought his vessel back to the harbor, thinking the tsunami threat was over. Suddenly, parts of docks and vessels from neighboring facilities broke loose.

"Come across and hit 900, where my boat was, and broke one of my pontoons. I had a trimaran. Smashed the rear end of it. I ended up losing the boat," recalled Wakefield.

The impact damaged the ends of several docks. Nearly a year later, FEMA funds will help to pay for repairs to Piers 700 and 800.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to rebuild the ends of these two failing piers, and not to mention that we're not going to meet the ADA requirements that the federal money is going to require, so we're proposing to FEMA reimburse us the $1.5 million that you're talking about, we'll kick in the extra money and we'll completely rebuild those piers," explained Ed Underwood from the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

Nearby at the La Mariana Sailing Club, the two broken piers have already been replaced.

"We're able to sail a lot easier and move in and out so it's nice," said boat owner Clarence Callahan.

Construction on Piers 700 and 800 is expected in the next four to six months.

"I'm glad. I'm glad, cause as you can see, they're in pretty rough shape," said Wakefield.

A project to replace two other rundown piers was already underway when the tsunami hit. While the repairs within the harbor are being tackled, the state still faces other challenges.

"We still are dealing with sunken objects, sunken vessels. We still have debris up on Slipper Island that's out there, so all that still needs to be done, too," said Underwood.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.