Hawaiian Economy Takes Minimal Hit from Two Tropical Storms

stormsHurricane Iselle passed over Hawaii as a “minimal” tropical storm on Friday, and it looks like the state economy has been minimally impacted by the storm as well.

While some parts of Hawaii suffered significant damage, the feeling in Oahu was almost like a very stormy holiday off, with shops closed and employees at home. Tourism, economic, and reconstruction costs from the storm are negligible on the larger scale.

Only a handful of homes on Hawaii island reported damage, though it could take weeks before the cost of storm damage is calculated, especially since tropical storm Julio also passed north of the islands on Monday.

“Hurricane Iselle left no substantial damage on the island of Oahu,” says Lauren Victoria, Marketing and Advertising Coordinator, E Noa Corporation. “Most of the island shut down on August 8 and was up and running, business as usual, on the 9th. For many companies there was a loss of productivity on the 8th, but a large income bump in the days prior- and post-Iselle.”

Unlike the pair of earthquakes of Hawaii island in 2006 that caused millions in damage and closed down businesses and highways, Iselle didn’t leave such dramatic destruction in it’s wake, though there were a few power outages. Still, these aren’t expected to have created major economic loss, unlike Oahu’s blackout in 1991, which cost the state economy $75 million.

As of Friday, fallen trees on Hawaii island knocked power out for 17,000 customers in rural areas, and Thursday overnight crews in Maui managed to restore power to all but 250 of the 8,000 customers who lost power there. Power outages in Oahu affected around 6,000 customers, but all but 1,500 customers saw service restored by Friday.

Government workers lost productivity but not income when they were asked not to go to their workplaces on Friday for safety reasons, and many emergency responders clocked significant overtime, so wages might be a factor in how much the storm cost Hawaii.

Most companies closed down on Friday closed on Friday to keep people home, and schools were closed as well. A few businesses on Oahu reopened on Friday when Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that Iselle had downgraded to a minimal tropical storm. Though Oahu’s two largest malls stayed closed, the shopping disruption shouldn’t cause a major economic impact since shoppers are expected to visit malls once the storm has passed.

The bump in spending for water, food, gasoline and batteries before Iselle was significant, it will likely be offset by consumers delaying purchases later since they’re already stocked up on goods.

The second storm, Julio, passed north of Hawaii on Sunday, and isn’t expected to have caused much additional damage. In fact, many parts of Hawaii were sunny and clear on Sunday, and tourists were allowed to return to their vacations. Trade wind alterations are expected to make the next week hot and muggy, but other than that, Hawaii’s tourists and citizens can start returning to normal lives.