Visitor industry gives $25,000 to help Kauai flood victims

  • Photo courtesy Kauai Economic Opportunity

    Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hanneman, fifth from left, presents a check for $25,000 to Kauai Economic Opportunity CEO MaBel Fujiuchi, fourth from right, for Kauai flood relief. From left are Annaleah Atkinson, Stephanie Fernandes, Jason Honjiyo and Kathryn Martin of KEO, Hanneman, Fujiuchi, Jim Braman, Joseph Figaroa, Sandi Kato-Klutke and Christine Gabriel.

LIHUE — While Kauai County is scrambling to find other money sources after the Federal Emergency Management Association denied requests for individual disaster assistance, money is coming in from nonprofit organizations and the state.

In a May 9 letter from FEMA to Gov. David Ige, FEMA administrator from the Office of Response and Recovery Jeffrey Byard said that “impacts to individuals and households from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of individual assistance.”

The Governor’s Office said Thursday an appeal of the decision is in the works, and FEMA allows 30 days for appealing.

Initially, the state’s damage assessment identified 177 homes on Kauai and Oahu that were destroyed or severely damaged. That number has jumped to 532 homes statewide, according to state officials, but a breakdown of the exact number of homes damaged on Kauai was not available by press time.

There is help in the form of $100 million from the state for Kauai relief, which was approved by Ige on Thursday.

“The floods have been devastating to families, individuals and businesses on Kauai and Oahu. We have moved quickly to start relief and recovery efforts. This funding will help take us to the next level,” said Ige.

Ige successfully requested a presidential disaster declaration granted on Tuesday, making available millions of dollars in federal funding for emergency repairs of public facilities that were damaged in the Kauai and Oahu flooding.

The request for federal assistance for individuals was denied, but the state is appealing the decision.

Previously, Ige made $500,000 immediately available for emergency response efforts, with an additional $10 million to speed up work to reopen roadways.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. expressed his gratitude to the state Legislature for the continued support.

“We have a long and expensive road ahead to restore our public infrastructure, but our island is resilient, and we will continue to work with all our partners to bring back a sense of normalcy to Kauai,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kauai Economic Opportunity received a $25,000 donation from the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association to help families from the hospitality industry who were affected by the devastating flooding in April.

“We’re very grateful to the HLTA and hospitality industry for their generosity, and we’re looking forward to immediately assisting families that can benefit from the services of Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc.,” said MaBel Fujiuchi, of KEO, who accepted the money on behalf of the organization.

She continued: “There’s so much to do to help our community rebuild, but we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. This award will go a long way in that effort.”

This is HLTA’s second major donation to KEO. The previous grant, also for $25,000, was awarded in late 2016 for services to the homeless. The money was used to repatriate the homeless to their families on the Mainland.

“The HLTA has been a leader in the business community in generating funding for worthy causes, and I can’t think of a worthier cause than helping our employees get back on their feet. They include families with badly damaged homes to people who’ve lost everything, and we want to help them rebuild their lives,” said HTLA President Mufi Hannemann.

  1. Sue May 12, 2018 9:05 am Reply

    $25,000? That’s all? The north shore brings in millions of tourism dollars and they only give $25,000 when help is needed? I guess it’s better than nothing.

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