By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawaii The states civil defense director now estimates that the Big Islands November flooding will cost state taxpayers at least $70 million, more than double previous estimates.
In a press conference yesterday, Ed Teixeira said Civil Defense officials are reviewing some 170 projects to repair storm damage. The federal government is expected to pay $16.3 million of the county repair projects approved so far, some of which may not be completed until spring 2002.
Another 34 county projects are pending, said deputy county public works director Jiro Sumada. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected 33 smaller projects, which will be paid for entirely by the county.
One of the speediest construction jobs has been a new bridge across the Alenaio Stream at Komohana Street in Hilo. After three months of traffic jams, the new $4.8 million bridge is scheduled to open Thursday almost three months ahead of schedule.
Engineers estimate it will cost $30 million to replace five other Big Island bridges damaged in the November floods. An East Molokai bridge is expected to cost $3 million to repair.
Sumada said officials recognize there is a risk that a new winter storm could cause even more damage because debris in streams has not been removed and roadways have not been repaired.
But Teixeira said the work must not be rushed because "its gotta be done right."
An estimated $8.1 million in loans and grants have been made to 2,035 individuals and small businesses: $4.6 million in Small Business Administration loans, $2.3 million in disaster housing grants and $1.2 million for other needs.
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