Feds Send $30 Million in Disaster Relief to Hawai‘i County

April 30, 2020, 5:27 PM HST (Updated May 1, 2020, 9:15 AM)
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The start of fissure 3 during Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone eruption. PC: USGS photo by M. Patrick.

Hawai‘i County will receive more than $30 million in new federal disaster relief funding to aid in the Kīlauea eruption recovery, the state’s US Senators announced earlier this week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant will be used to repair water delivery systems that were damaged by the eruption.

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“As Hawai‘i Island continues to recover from the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, more federal funding is on the way,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I will continue fighting for federal resources to assist in our state’s recovery efforts.”

The $30 million included in the FEMA grant has to be used to repair water infrastructure, but it doesn’t have to be used specifically to replace water lines that were damaged by the eruption. The Hawai‘i County Department of Water Supply has said many waterlines running into areas heavily impacted by the eruption can’t yet be replaced as geological factors, like ground temperature, render replace-and-repair efforts difficult.

DWS will be able to use the funds for alternative water projects should they so choose, though FEMA will have to approve any alternative projects before they can proceed.

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