LIHUE — Federal relief is on the way for Kauai and Oahu after President Donald Trump declared recent flooding and landslides on Hawaii as a national disaster on Tuesday.
The declaration was at the urging of Hawaii Governor David Ige, who requested the President issue a Major Disaster Declaration for public assistance from damage incurred as a result of severe storms, floods, landslides and mudslides on Kauai and Oahu between April 13 and April 16.
The approval paves the way for assistance with emergency work and the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged public facilities in Kauai and Honolulu.
The request for individual assistance is under review.
“I want to thank our FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) partners for their on-the-ground assistance and rapid response to this request,” Ige said. “I have spoken with mayors Caldwell and Carvalho to let them know help is on the way.”
Gov. Ige submitted the request on May 2 following a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment completed by state, county and federal agencies. The Hawaii Congressional delegation also urged the President to approve Governor Ige’s disaster declaration request.
“Now we can utilize federal FEMA funds to rebuild many government facilities and infrastructure,” said State Representative Daynette Morikawa, who worked in parks and recreation when Iniki hit Kauai and remembers the hardships.
“Residents will also be able to get tax relief from this disaster,” she said. “We will get through this, but my prayers go out to the residents on the Big Island being impacted by the lava flows. Their losses will be long term, and they will need a lot of help to get their lives together again.”
Last week, Senator Mazie Hirono traveled to Kauai’s North Shore to assess storm damage and meet with families and businesses affected by the flooding. “Rebuilding Kauai and Oahu communities affected by historic flooding requires a long-term, comprehensive response, and approval of a disaster declaration expands the federal resources available to support these efforts,” she said.
“As the federal, state, and county governments work together to respond to these natural disasters, including volcanic activity on Hawaii Island, I will continue to advocate for all available federal support for affected communities,” Hirono said.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also spent time in the Kauai communities affected and saw firsthand the destroyed homes, businesses, and roads. “I have heard from families separated from each other due to landslides, whose homes were flooded, and others who were forced to evacuate and have yet to return home,” she said. “Today’s major disaster declaration will provide necessary assistance to this community in their time of need.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa also supported the approval of the federal disaster declaration and the ongoing efforts on the Big Island in Puna.
“These resources are critical to the federal, state and county efforts ongoing on Oahu and Kauai to help communities recover from historic rainfall, flooding and mudslides that damaged or destroyed more than 630 homes, ruined businesses and closed critical infrastructure,” Hanabusa said.
“This is a challenging time for our state as we manage ongoing disaster responses in three counties,” she said. “The unpredictable nature of the eruption and lava flow in Puna will require another collective effort to support those who lost homes and property.”