More than two months after a flood drove them out of their homes, Kalihi residents received more bad news.
They’ve been told that there’s not enough insurance money to fix their condominiums.
Nine units at Hale Umi Condominiums were destroyed after Kalihi Stream overflowed during Tropical Storm Darby in July.
The association has insurance to rebuild, but letters have been sent to the residents saying the money approved by the insurance company is about $150,000 short of the actual cost.
Residents aren’t just worried about the cost. The letter also states that finishing the project will take even longer.
KHON2 spoke with a consulting firm official who is working on a solution.
Nine families have been living with the nightmare of seeing several feet of water rush into their homes and destroy their personal belongings. They cleaned out as much as they could, but for health reasons, all nine units will have to be renovated with new walls and floors. Victims have been living with family members or temporary housing provided by the Institute for Human Services.
They just got a letter saying work has to stop because there’s not enough money. The letter explains that “due to the discrepancies in the adjuster’s estimates… the amount approved to this date would not be sufficient.”
The shortage is estimated at $150,000. If accepted, this shortage amount would have to be 100-percent funded by the association, meaning all owners, not just flood victims.
“How can the numbers be so off?” KHON2 asked.
“That’s the same reaction myself and other homeowners have. How can it be that off?” said Aaron Meyer, one of the flood victims.
The letter also states that the consulting firm is trying to work out a settlement with the insurance company to get more money, but until then work has to stop, which means it’s going to take even longer for the families to move back in.
Work was supposed to be done by the end of this month, but the letter states reconstruction will resume by Nov. 3 and completed Nov. 30.
“There’s no end. We thought we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Meyer.
We went to Hawaiiana Management Company, which manages the building, but the person in charge was not available, so we tracked down the company that’s been hired to oversee the reconstruction, Total Class Solutions.
As for the $150,000 cost difference, we’re told it’s because it was done by a mainland insurance adjuster who didn’t take into account the higher prices in Hawaii.
“Meaning an electrician over here might charge $95 an hour, but on the mainland, he might only charge $65,” explained Mike Shaw, Hawaii business manager for Total Class Solutions.
Shaw says a supplemental request is already in the works that should cover most of the additional cost.
“I feel confident that the supplemental request should cover a lot of what he missed or undervalued, but it takes a process to go through that,” he said. That’s why the completion date has been pushed back one month.
But Shaw says he’s also confident that it will be done by Nov. 30, so families can move back in December.