FEMA arrives to assess disaster claims

LIHU‘E — Federal Emergency Management Agency officials arrived on Kaua‘i Monday to help island agencies apply for as much as $1.65 million in federal aid available in the wake of the violent storms in March.

The federal help became available after President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for Hawai‘i on April 18 to benefit Kaua‘i.

Kaua‘i officials reported $2 million in damages caused by the storms, flooding and landslides March 3-11, qualifying the island for federal assistance.

O‘ahu declared $200,000 in damage from the March storms, knowing it was not enough to help O‘ahu but that it would benefit Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Civil Defense Officer Suzanne Toguchi said at the FEMA briefing in Lihu‘e.  

So FEMA can now provide as much as 75 percent of $2.2 million in aid, she said. That will help public agencies and eligible nonprofits recover the costs of emergency work, including overtime pay, in the immediate wake of the disaster, and also help with long-term projects.

“The whole purpose is to restore the island to what it should be,” Toguchi said.

The remaining 25 percent of funding would be required non-federal funding as part of the cost-sharing program.

Agencies can apply for funds for permanent work such as repairs, restoration or replacement projects, as well as Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds for long-term work to reduce the potential for damage to facilities in future severe weather events.

“We’re going to try and help out,” FEMA Coordinating Officer Mark Armstrong told about 50 participants at the meeting held to outline the aid application process.

 Participants included eight FEMA officers, state and Kaua‘i Civil Defense officials, and representatives of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and county public works, parks and recreation, fire and water departments.

Only county and state agencies that suffered damages from the storms are eligible for the funds, as well as certain nonprofit organizations that provide public services such as medical, educational, emergency and other support.

Initial reports are due May 18, followed by a series of deadlines this summer and fall for project proposal submissions and reviews. Participants were told that precise documentation was essential.

Kaua‘i County Civil Defense Agency Administrator Ted Daligdig said he and his staff members are available to help with the reporting and application process.

“We are here to support you,” Daligdig said.

For more information, click on the Kaua‘i County Civil Defense Agency page at www.kauai.gov, visit the state Civil Defense website at www.scd.hawaii.gov or the FEMA website at www.fema.gov. 

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