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Agricultural disaster declared for Hawaii County

  • BRUCE OMORI / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
    Tropical Storm Iselle devastated papaya orchards on Hawaii island this month, as the fruit-laden, top-heavy trees were no match for the storm’s intense winds.
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Federal disaster loans and other assistance are available for farmers who suffered losses from the wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm iselle.

That’s because Hawaii County has been designated a primary natural disaster area by U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to members of Hawaii’s congressional declaration.

Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack declared an agricultural disaster Tuesday, after examining loss reports and determining that agricultural production losses from the storm met eligibility requirements.

Hawaii County farmers have eight months to apply for disaster loans.

Preliminary assessments show papaya farmers suffered more than  $50 million in damage and losses from the storm.

The state is appealing an earlier decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, denying a request for a major disaster declaration that would provide federal aid to residents, the state and county to help with the cost of  responding to and recovering from the damage inflicted by Tropical Storm Iselle.

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate stated in a letter that damage from Iselle, which made landfall Aug. 8 near the Puna, “was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies. Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental assistance is not necessary.”

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