LIHUE — Gov. David Ige is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider its initial denial of the state’s request for individual assistance for Kauai and Oahu residents affected by April’s severe storms and flooding.
The governor signed the request for reconsideration based on additional data, including, the identification of additional damages resulting from the disaster, additional insurance information that has found a significant number of uninsured losses and updated damage and trauma information.
“The individual component of our request for assistance is very, very important and we were extremely disappointed when our request was initially denied,” Ige said. “We have been working with FEMA to appeal that decision, and we believe the request for reconsideration that I signed today is much stronger.”
Since the governor’s initial request, the state and county have identified additional damaged homes via call-in centers, web-based reporting tools, disaster recovery centers, and volunteer groups that canvassed the counties.
A second, follow up Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment was performed by FEMA, the county and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to validate the additional data.
At least 760 homes were impacted in some way by the storm and floods on Kauai and Oahu. Of the 187 homes destroyed or severely damaged, 109 were owner-occupied.
On Kauai, 11 homes were destroyed, 72 suffered major damage and 267 suffered minor damage, according to the papers.
Ige is seeking assistance from all of the federal individual assistance programs for Kauai County and the City and County of Honolulu. The programs include Disaster Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, and Disaster Case Management.
Even with insurance, Marshall &SwiftlBoeckh LLC, a leading provider of building replacement cost data, estimates that 59 percent of homes and contents are underinsured. Admiral Insurance estimates that the average contents value of a home is $58,000.
According to the request document regarding Kauai, “Small business owners and employees no longer have a place to live in the community, making survival of their businesses questionable. The cascading effects of this disaster will reverberate throughout the county producing greater impacts than can be assumed from looking at a map of impacted homes.
“With more than 33 percent of Wainiha’s housing stock destroyed or with major damage, and its continued isolation from the rest of the island, recovery for this community will be challenging. In nearby Hanalei, over 63 percent of occupied single-family homes were damaged by the floods. Any community would have a difficult time recovering after the loss of such significant percentages of its housing stock.”
The request from Ige said the most recent statistics from the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations show 133 unemployment insurance claims from flood-affected areas on Kauai. Of these, 68 are workers from the Hanalei Bay Dolphin restaurant, which is currently closed due to flood related damages.
The request said Kauai County has documented over 370 people who lost work or income as a direct result of the disaster. Of these, 170 are self-employed, farmers, artists, or small business owners.