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Sen. Hirono Stresses Continued Federal Disaster Resources for Hawai‘i

February 13, 2019, 2:46 PM HST
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During a U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2109, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono highlighted the importance of continued disaster relief for Hawai‘i businesses, homeowners, and others who were impacted by last year’s natural disasters, and requested U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon’s continued commitment to supporting individuals and families who were impacted. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded roughly $48 million to more than 500 survivors affected by natural disasters in 2018.

From Sen. Hirono’s remarks:

“Last year Hawai‘i was impacted by several natural disasters—including severe storms, floods, and mudslides; volcanic eruptions and earthquakes; and hurricanes. These disasters displaced homeowners, disrupted businesses, and had an enormous impact on individuals and families in our communities, as well as state and local resources. Even today, people in my state are still working to recover from these disasters.

“To date, roughly 500 disaster survivors in Hawai‘i—including business-owners; individuals and families; and homeowners—have received more than $48 million in disaster assistance from the SBA—primarily through the SBA’s low-interest disaster loan programs.

“Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to meet with local directors from Hawai‘i Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) that provide business counseling services for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including those who may be recovering from natural disasters. The representatives reiterated the challenges businesses in the state faced last year related to natural disasters, and were appreciative of the SBA’s coordinated efforts to support local communities dealing with natural disasters.

“As an island state, Hawai‘i is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, including disasters like volcanic eruptions, and I hope we can continue working together to make sure local businesses and homeowners in Hawai‘i receive the support they need in 2019.”

Through its disaster loan programs, the SBA offers low-interest loans to businesses, homeowners, renters, and others located in areas affected by federally-declared disasters. More information about the SBA’s disaster loan programs, including information about how to apply for disaster loans, can be found online.

During the hearing, Administrator McMahon told the Committee that since 2017, nationwide, the SBA has issued over 170,000 loans totaling more than $8 billion to small businesses in communities affected by natural disasters. Administrator McMahon also discussed the SBA’s partnership with its state and local counterparts to assist recovery and resiliency efforts for homeowners and business-owners alike in distressed communities after natural disasters.

In May 2018, the Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation wrote to President Trump urging him to grant Governor David Ige’s request for a Presidential disaster declaration that would provide relief following flooding in Kaua‘i and O‘ahu as well as the Kīlauea Volcano eruption. In August 2018, the Congressional Delegation wrote to President Trump to request a second Presidential disaster declaration in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Lane, which caused widespread power outages and major disruptions to the critical transportation networks.

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