WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Hawai‘i, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which made the announcement on Thursday.
FEMA said the federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, flooding and landslides from March 8 through 18.
That was the latest in several years of major rain events that have flooded the Hawaiian Islands, including Kaua‘i. During those rain events, streams and rivers overflowed all over the island, and saturated soil triggered landslides. Convoys are still in place to navigate the landslide on Kuhio Highway between Princeville and Hanalei following heavy rains in early March.
Biden’s disaster declaration triggers funding to help mitigate the problems caused statewide by the storms. Maui County was specifically named in the funding announcement.
In a Tuesday statement, Hawai‘i’s U.S. Reps. Kaiali‘i Kahele and Ed Case both praised the declaration.
“We are grateful to President Biden for his prompt attention to the needs of the people of Hawai‘i, in particular the residents of Maui County,” said Kahele. “There is much work to do in order for our communities to recover and rebuild from the devastating flooding and landslides that occurred just two months ago.”
Case underlined Kahele’s statement, saying the assistance the declaration provides is crucial for the people of Hawai‘i.
“This also comes as Hawai‘i must prepare once again for hurricane season in our part of the world, and I urge us all to take all necessary steps,” Case said.
On March 12, Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation called on Biden in a letter to expedite all federal assistance possible to help communities across the state hardest hit by the torrential rain that caused massive flooding and landslides in Kaua‘i County, Maui County and City &County of Honolulu.
Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private, nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard-mitigation measures for the entire state.
Colby Stanton has been named federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.