NATIONAL NEWS

Combined residential reconstruction value after Maui fires estimated at $1.3 billion

Aug 16, 2023, 3:49 PM

Destroyed Lahaina homes & buildings...

An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings on the waterfront burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii.(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images) Restriction:

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

New York (CNN) — The early estimate of the areas encompassed by the devastating Maui wildfires includes about $1.3 billion of residencies, according to a recent preliminary estimate from CoreLogic.

That figure tallies the “combined reconstruction value,” or how much it would cost to rebuild the structures in those preliminary areas. That doesn’t mean every building within those preliminary boundaries will need reconstruction, nor does it include the contents of those residences.

Ryan Brazell is a Utahn who lost his home in Lahaina.

Utahn returns after losing his home in Maui fire, contemplates next steps

He escaped the flames with only two backpacks of his property, and on Friday, he was back in Utah contemplating his next steps.

In preliminary perimeters drawn by CoreLogic, the company found 2,808 Lahaina homes that have a reconstruction cost value of $1.1 billion. Pulehu has 275 homes with about $147 million in costs, and Pukalani has a reconstruction cost value of $4.2 million for its five homes.

Wildfires have raged across the Hawaiian island of Maui, killing at least 106 people as of Wednesday. Officials expect the death toll to rise and say it could take years to fully recover. The catastrophic firestorm also destroyed countless businesses on the island, which the estimate from CoreLogic didn’t include.

According to a damage assessment from the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and FEMA on Saturday, Maui County experienced $5.52 billion in “capital exposure,” which is the estimated cost to rebuild following damage by the Lahaina Fire. Maui County has a population of about 165,000.

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FEMA issued a statement later Saturday saying the figure is not accurate and that it is still too early to determine the cost of rebuilding.

“The $5.5 (billion) figure being reported by some media outlets, and cited to the Pacific Disaster Center, is not a dollar amount from FEMA and does not reflect any damage estimations from our agency,” a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement said the figure was listed as “capital exposed,” which FEMA said is not a measure of building costs. The federal agency said it has not yet done any cost estimates.

“We are still in active response and initial recovery phases, and it is too early to do so. Once all life-saving and life-sustaining needs are met, we will begin to assess the damage and formulate preliminary estimates,” the statement read.

CNN has reached out to the Pacific Disaster Center for clarification.

More than 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed and 2,170 acres have burned as a result of the Lahaina Fire, according to the PDC and FEMA.

The structure of the Lahaina properties, combined with the hurricane-force winds and deadly gusts, allowed the firestorm to decimate many of the area’s buildings.

“Many of the residential properties in Lahaina appear to have wood siding, and a number of them have elevated porches with a lattice underneath,” Thomas Jeffery, CoreLogic principal wildfire scientist, said in the findings. “Both are characteristics that make the residence very vulnerable to either ember or direct flame ignition.”

However, the full extent of the damage is still unknown. It will take “some time” to figure that out, CoreLogic emphasized. CoreLogic created preliminary wildfire perimeters for its study that could change, it said.

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Combined residential reconstruction value after Maui fires estimated at $1.3 billion