Storm assistance approved

The U.S. Senate passed the 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill today, by a 78 to 20 vote, earmarking $37.5 million in storm-related assistance for Hawai‘i.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill on March 16, by a vote of 348 to 71.

In a Thursday press release, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, said a House-Senate conference committee will reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and strong supporter of granting federal aid to Hawai‘i, Inouye was named a Senate conferee.

The senator also said the funds will help all affected areas of the state, and “will also help to ensure that the state can better withstand similar weather-related emergencies.”

Just over 1 percent of the aid package will go the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hydraulic Networks and Analysis Program to provide assistance in critical reservoir and dam assessments on Kaua‘i.

Inouye said President Bush’s disaster declaration for the state of Hawai‘i should earmark more federal funds for individual, public and hazard mitigation assistance throughout the state.

Inouye said that there is still a chance the President could veto the bill and return it to Congress.

“I would be very disappointed if the President vetoed the bill, and if the Republican majority upheld the veto,” Inouye said in the press release. “The emergency funds for Kaua‘i and the rest of Hawai‘i address necessary needs as a result of the more than 40 days and nights of unceasing rainstorms, floods and mudslides.”

Where the money goes

The following is how the Hawai‘i earmarks in the Senate emergency spending bill break down.

• $20 million for Kuhio Highway repairs and other roads and infrastructure

• $6 million in transportation funds to help sugarcane growers cope with losses

• $3 million to repair and rebuild irrigation systems infrastructure and debris removal from the Ka Loko dam failure.

• $3 million for debris removal and stream bank stabilization throughout O‘ahu.

• $3 million for water systems technical assistance and flood plain management services, conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

• $1 million to assess the state’s water quality.

• $1 million for crop disaster assistance.

• $500,000 for critical dam and reservoir assessment on Kaua‘i.

SOURCE: Sen. Daniel Inouye’s office

• Ford Gunter, staff writer, may be reached at fgunter@kauaipubco.com, or 245-3681 (ext. 251).

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