Boca Raton Airport Damage Hits $12 Million

The Boca Raton Airport sustained nearly $12 million in damage from Hurricane Wilma, not counting the yet-undetermined costs of aircraft destruction, airport officials said Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Boca Raton Airport Authority.

The estimate is preliminary and costs could rise, said Ken Day, the airport manager, adding he hoped to have a final damage estimate by January.

He could not provide a figure for aircraft losses although he observed that at least 50 aircraft were damaged.

"Every structure in the airport received damage," Day said. Two large hangars with aircraft inside them collapsed at Boca Aviation, one of the airport's five tenants. Other tenants reported damage to roofs, walls, and doors of hangars and other aircraft.

The airport's air traffic control tower has damage to its parapet wall, beacon, hurricane screens, lighting rods, aluminum siding and ceiling tiles, Day said.

Meanwhile, last year's hurricanes did not hit the airport's hangars and only $85,000 in damage was reported, he said.

Since the airport reopened two days after Wilma passed, the tenants have begun fixing hangars in order to remove damaged aircraft. The tenants, not the airport authority, are responsible for fixing the hangars and aircraft.

Debris collection remains ongoing.

Airport officials applied for money from the Federal Aviation Authority and FEMA, but Day said there is no guarantee the federal government would provide any financial assistance.

The airport may reopen for nighttime air travel by the end of the week, he said. The airport closes at 11 p.m. and reopens at 7 a.m. because of concerns that loose debris may hit incoming aircraft at night when there is no service from the air traffic control tower.

Airport authority members braced for higher deductibles and premiums. To avoid paying a new $250,000 windstorm deductible for the tower, members on Wednesday approved combining the airport's hangar insurance policies. Previously, the same deductible cost $25,000.

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