Individual Federal Assistance for Qualifying Volcano Evacuees Granted
Governor David Ige’s request for individual assistance for Hawaiʻi County residents who lost their homes and property in the Kīlauea volcanic eruption has been approved.
The approval comes a day after the request, and means qualifying residents may receive assistance from the federal government’s full scope of individual assistance programs to address issues such as shelter needs, unemployment, trauma and legal matters.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Center will be set up at Keaʻau High School today. There, county state and federal agencies will initially gather information from residents who have suffered losses. Residents whose primary homes were destroyed or whose homes are inaccessible due to the lava flow can register.
The county has estimated that since the recent onset of activity in May, the eruption has destroyed about 455 residential dwellings, 192 of which are primary residences.
In addition, there are homes and farms that are isolated by the lava flows, while others are inaccessible or uninhabitable because of high ash and sulfur dioxide concentrations.
To date, assistance for individuals has been provided by the county government, state agencies, and a large network of non-profit organizations. The state has no individual assistance programs.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) responded to the news saying, “Over the past six weeks, thousands of people on Hawaiʻi Island have seen their homes, livelihoods, farms, and businesses devoured by lava. For those impacted by this crisis, day-to-day life remains uncertain, with their future unknown. Help and support for basic needs are sorely and urgently needed. This funding will help assist with things like temporary housing, home repairs and replacements, medical needs, child care, transportation, and more.”
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) also weighed in saying, “I want to thank FEMA and President Trump for their quick action. This is an extraordinary ongoing disaster, and the federal response has been robust and seamlessly integrated into state, county, and community efforts. This is a challenging time for Hawai‘i Island, and this is welcome news.”
Fellow US Senator, Mazie Hirono said, “The swift approval of the State’s application for Individual Assistance unlocks much needed resources for residents and households affected by the ongoing Kīlauea eruption. We have a lot of hard work ahead as we continue to respond to and begin to recover from this disaster and I want to thank President Trump and FEMA for their quick action today.”
Gov. Ige has also asked the federal government to re-consider his request for individual assistance for storm and flood victims on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.
The President granted the governor’s previous requests for emergency declarations and public assistance in the wake of the volcanic eruptions in Hawai‘i County and the storms and flooding on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.