Hawaii Volcano Blog

County Releases Kīlauea Recovery Plan

December 6, 2020, 8:48 AM HST
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Lava fountains erupting from fissure 22 (center) with heavy degassing (upper right) during Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone eruption in 2018. USGS photo. May 20, 2018. L. DeSmither.

The County of Hawai‘i has released the official Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The plan is a strategic document that will continue to guide recovery following the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, along with two supporting documents – an islandwide Volcanic Risk Assessment and an Economic Recovery Plan.

Together, these documents integrate broad-based community engagement and technical data in the development of recovery strategies and projects that will help the Puna District and the island as a whole become more resilient to natural hazards, according to a press release from the county.

“The 2018 eruption was a devastating event for many that changed our lives and our landscape,” said Douglas Le, the County’s Disaster Recovery Officer. “But every disaster creates opportunities to learn from the past and shape our future. With the assistance of state and federal disaster funding, the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan and its supporting documents will help residents secure housing, build a more resilient economy, prepare for future disasters, and protect our natural and cultural resources.”

The Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan builds on recovery initiatives that are ongoing and identifies additional projects for support that fit within three strategies: Kīlauea Eruption Recovery, Disaster Readiness, and Community Resilience – Building Community Capacity.

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Recovery initiatives that have been supported by the county include spending about $6.4 million so far on restoring road access and awarding $3.7 million through the Kīlauea Recovery Grant Program to support the restoration of several farms, additional road investments, Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School, affordable housing, and other initiatives.

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Additionally, the county is preparing to launch a new grant program that will provide community organizations with funding and technical assistance to develop and implement programs to increase community resilience in Puna.

Through partnerships with Neighborhood Place of Puna and the funding partners of the Kīlauea Hui, 119 households also have been assisted with more than $815,000 for home repairs, catchment systems, rental assistance, and living needs following the eruption.

Other projects identified in the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan address additional eruption impacts related to infrastructure, providing housing solutions for displaced residents, crafting land-use policies for the island that address natural hazards as part of the update to the county’s General Plan, and initiatives that are community-led and county-supported, such as efforts to establish a network of resilience hubs to support communities during and outside of disasters. In total, 31 projects are identified, which come with their own action steps and an implementation structure that fosters collaboration.

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As a strategy document, Le noted the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan is intended to guide recovery initiatives, which will continue to evolve. While the county is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Plan, community partnerships will be critical as part of this process, including the development of further recovery actions that fit within the strategies and uplift the Puna community.

“Recovery is not just a county effort; it’s a kākou thing,” Le said. “The community has stepped up to the plate in many ways during and after the disaster, and the success of this plan will also require ongoing community empowerment and collaboration.”

As part of the implementation process, the County’s Recovery Team collaboration with Working Groups consisting of public, private, and community partners who are actively engaged in work related to recovery and resilience in the community. These groups would be built around Island Resilience Capabilities focused on embracing social and cultural resilience, building a more resilient economy, managing the resilience of the natural and built environments, and strengthening the governance of risk and resilience.

In addition to community input, the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan is supported by technical data and analysis conducted as part of the islandwide Volcanic Risk Assessment. That assessment identifies high hazard areas across our island and recommends the county applies a hazard overlay to inform future land-use decisions based on risk exposure. Those issues will be considered as part of the update to the County’s General Plan, which requires consultation with the community and adoption by the County Council.

The Economic Recovery Plan looks specifically at the economic impacts caused by the eruption and Hurricane Lane, which affected the island the same year, identifies strengths and weaknesses in the local economy, and provides recommendations. It includes initiatives that were brought forth by business and community stakeholders to strengthen the foundation of the economy both locally for Puna and island-wide in ways that can ensure the community thrives after downturns and shock events.

To view the documents, visit https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/planning/recovery-plans-strategies.

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