East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Iselle’s Impact Does Not Meet Federal Disaster Declaration Criteria

August 28, 2014, 11:42 AM HST
* Updated August 29, 8:52 AM
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***Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. to include comments from Governor Neal Abercrombie and Mayor Billy Kenoi.***

Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued a joint statement Thursday in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle.

Kenoi made the following statement individually:

We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.

The following is from a press release containing the joint statement:
The state and the County of Hawai’i are working together to gather sufficient additional information, including socio-economic data, to justify a successful appeal.

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“In the meantime, county, state and other federal agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, are providing support under their own authorities. The state also remains eligible for a declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will enable qualified individuals and businesses to receive low-interest loans for repairs.”

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**Originally posted at 11:42 a.m.*

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Hawai’i’s request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle.

W. Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, denied the request that sought individual assistance for people and households affected by the tropical storm in early August and hazard mitigation funds for use in statewide projects.

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The storm left some 21,900 Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers without power, while many residents in the Puna District reported downed power lines and trees that were blocking roads, driveways and some were even reported to be on houses.

According to a press release issued Thursday, Fugate’s denial letter states: “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

Doug Mayne, Administrator for the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency, says assistance will still be provided through numerous county and non-profit agencies.

“The lack of receiving this declaration will make it more difficult to find funds,” he said. “But there are some organizations that are providing some support and it would have been helpful if we received this but we didn’t.”

People still in need of assistance may call Hawai’i County at 808-935-0031 or the volunteer request line at 808-464-3175.

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