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Gov. Ige Issues Presidential Disaster Declaration Request for Big Island

May 9, 2018, 3:32 PM HST
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Lava fountain erupts from the growing Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent during eruptive episode 8, five months after the eruption began in 1983. Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i. PC: USGS

Gov. David Ige signed a Presidential Disaster Declaration request, asking President Donald Trump to declare the State of Hawai‘i a major disaster as a result of the ongoing seismic activity and volcanic eruptions on Hawai‘i Island.

The governor is asking that the declaration authorize the Public Assistance Grant Program for Hawai‘i County, as well as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program statewide.

Since May 3, Hawai‘i County and the State of Hawai‘i have dedicated more than $400,000 in emergency protective measures for the lava flow and earthquakes in the Kilauea East Rift Zone. The estimated cost to protect residents over the next 30 days is expected to exceed $2.9 million. These costs do not include permanent work or damages incurred from the earthquakes, and costs will skyrocket should large-scale air and sea evacuations become necessary.

Hawai‘i County proclaimed a state of emergency on May 3. Gov. Ige then took the appropriate action under state law and issued an emergency proclamation for Hawai‘i County effective May 3, authorizing the expenditure of state funds as appropriate to provide for the quick and efficient relief of damages, losses and suffering that have resulted from the volcanic eruption and seismic activity. The governor also directed the execution of the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Operations plan.

“As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases. A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,” said Gov. Ige. “Federal assistance would be necessary to enable us to successfully conduct such large-scale operations.”

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