LIHUE — The Kauai County Council approved a $5 million emergency ordinance Wednesday to help pay for recovery from flooding that devastated much of the North Shore.
The administration can ask for an additional $14 million from the County’s Reserve Fund.
“This is the worst natural disaster that has occurred on Kauai in the last 25 years and the recovery and rebuild effort is going to be incredible and is currently incredible,” said Wally Rezentes Jr., county managing director. “As we move forward, the rebuilding process will be expensive and it will take a long time to complete,”
The administration is estimating FEMA will cover 75 percent of eligible government infrastructure costs, but those monies will come on the back end as reimbursements.
“So we need to front county funds toward our efforts,” said Rezentes.
Though their damage assessment isn’t complete because officials have been unable to reach specific areas, preliminary assessments indicate 66 homes sustained damages during the storm, while many homes were destroyed.
Council Chair Mel Rapozo said he wanted to find out on behalf of the public and to make it really clear as to what the $5 million is to be used for.
“I’m assuming that a lot of these bins and removals of stuff is being charged against the county’s account,” Rapozo said.
Vice Chair Ross Kagawa also asked if they knew exactly where the money would be going, because he said he’d rather take the time to fix things the right way first, then to have to go back and do it again.
“I’m a little uncomfortable not having something on paper,” Kagawa said.
With amendment in hand to increase the funding to $10 million, Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura inquired as to whether the $5 million being requested was enough. After an oftentimes heated discussion, when it was made clear the county could ask for further funding, Yukimura withdrew her amendment.
The county’s Reserve Fund contains $43 million, with $14 million identified for disaster response, said Kim Tamaoka, county spokeswoman. That does not preclude the county from utilizing more than $14 million toward the disaster, she said.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or email@example.com.