Hawaii County releases blueprint for 2018 eruption recovery

HILO — Hawaii County has made plans public aimed at guiding the Big Island’s recovery from the impact of the devastating volcanic eruption that destroyed hundreds of homes and business assets.

County officials released the recovery and resilience plan, an economic recovery plan and a volcanic risk assessment to help residents and businesses still feeling the effects of the May 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano, The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported.

The eruption lasting four months covered 13.7 square miles (35 square kilometers) in lava and destroyed more than 700 homes and other structures.

County Disaster Recovery Officer Douglas Le said in a statement Friday that the Kilauea Recovery and Resilience Plan would use state and federal disaster funding to “help residents secure housing, build a more resilient economy, prepare for future disasters, and protect our natural and cultural resources.”

The recovery and resilience plan is organized as a guide identifying projects focusing on strategies that include eruption recovery, disaster readiness and community resilience.

The plan identifies 31 projects addressing infrastructure and housing initiatives. Work on many is underway.

The economic recovery plan provides a “robust snapshot of data” for the year following the eruption, Le said in an interview.

The plan measures impacts in terms of lost business revenue and property and infrastructure and job losses.

The volcanic assessment analyzes eruption hazards around the island.

“The volcanic risk assessment serves an analytical tool (and) data to help inform these future conversations about how do we plan for natural hazards and risks in our land use on this island,” Le said.

The documents initially were expected to be completed a year ago, but Le said community engagement, technical analysis and ongoing work with the county’s recovery task force prolonged the process.

Although the county estimates at least 3,600 people provided input for the recovery plan, Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder said the community needed to have a greater voice.

“We need to move forward,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “We’re two years in. There has to be action or people get frustrated and lose interest in participating. That’s what we want to avoid.”


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