TYPHOON DAMAGE $6 MILLION AND CLIMBING AT GUAM PORT

TYPHOON DAMAGE $6 MILLION AND CLIMBING AT GUAM PORT

A month and a half after Typhoon Paka slammed into Guam with the highest winds ever recorded there, the island's containerport is still without power and officials are staring at a damage bill that is $6 million and climbing.

Last week port General Manager Eulogio ''Loy'' Bermudes told the governing board of the Port of Guam that new problems have been found in one of the port's three gantry cranes, which are currently running on generators.That assessment follows several weeks of chaos after the Dec. 17 storm, where winds of 236 mph were reported on the north end of the 217-square-mile island. High winds and a 35-foot surge of waves ''drowned the port,'' which is located on the northeast side of Apra Harbor, said Tom Ahillen, general manager on Guam for Matson Navigation.

''The container yard was completely underwater, and when that subsided the yard was like a sand beach, with a lot of big boulders here and there,'' he said.

In addition, the road that comes down to the port was washed out, and containers were either turned upside down or on their sides. ''The generators on some of the toppled reefers were still running - blowing bubbles from underwater in some cases,'' Mr. Ahillen recalls.

With a population of 150,000, about 11,000 of them active-duty U.S. military personnel, Guam receives an average of 625 containers of cargo a week from the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, according to representatives of the island's two primary ocean carriers, Matson Navigation Co. and Sea-Land Service Inc.

Much of that is household effects and other cargo going to and from Andersen Air Force Base and Navy submarine and ship ports. About 80 percent of the total inbound freight received on Guam comes from the United States, Mr. Ahillen said. Guam is an unincorporated U.S. territory that is considered a U.S. domestic trade for shipping purposes, falling under the 1920 Jones Act. In a recent assessment, the Port Authority of Guam recently calculated the damage at $6.25 million. But the agency stressed that the figure could go higher as additional effects of the typhoon are found.

The port is insured, and adjusters from the insurance company are meeting with port officials to determine which damages will be covered.

Ocean freight has continued to arrive on Guam since the typhoon, but many retailers have not been able to receive it because their buildings were damaged or destroyed and there has been little electricity on the island.

''We tried to work with our customers. If they weren't able to take their freight, we stored their container in the port so its chassis could be used by other customers,'' Mr. Ahillen says. The port's governing board is considering which adjusters to hire to prepare insurance and Federal Emergency Management Agency claims that will be filed by the port.

Two proposals have been submitted for that work: one from Young Adjustment Co., in Philadelphia, the other from the Los Angeles office of Adjusters International, working in association with the international accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick.