Gov. David Ige today asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster for Hawaii following last month’s flooding and landslides that destroyed — or caused major damage — to more than 115 homes on Kauai and Oahu.
In all, 532 homes on Oahu and Kauai were “affected” by the storm from April 13-16, according to Hawaii Emergency Management Agency estimates released today. HI-EMA did not provide cost estimates for the amount of overall damage, but said that damage to public properties added up to more than $19.7 million. There are still no estimates for how many businesses were damaged or destroyed.
At an afternoon press conference today, Ige said that a federal disaster declaration will help reimburse the state and Honolulu and Kauai Counties recoup unspecified “millions of dollars” they have already paid out.
Ige said he remains “very confident” that Trump will declare a disaster for Hawaii.
The counties and the state, Ige said, “had to redirect funds that were intended for different projects.” So the federal aid, he said, represents “reimbursement after the fact.”
But Ige could offer little guidance for homeowners faced with rebuilding.
“We clearly don’t have authorization (for) funding individuals,” he said.
A damage assessment conducted between April 22 and April 27 found that 532 homes were affected by the flooding and landslides, HI-EMA said. Five of the structures are “second homes.”
The announcement also did not differentiate between the number of homes that were “affected,” damaged or destroyed between Oahu and the Garden Isle.
But HI-EMA spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that “Kauai would be a higher figure” in terms of both cost and the number of homes that were damaged or destroyed.
The $19.7 million estimate for damage to public properties does not include expenses such as the costs to remove debris from county roads on Oahu; the cost to remove green waste from Kauai County beaches; or the cost to the state Department of Education to open a makeshift school in the isolated community of Haena on Kauai’s north shore.
But the numbers will play a role in whether Trump will declare “a major disaster,” along with federal aid, HI-EMA said.
First, state officials will ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to review its application for a presidential declaration.
The application could include other variables, HI-EMA said, such “the concentration of damages; trauma, including whether there have been a large number of injuries or deaths or a large-scale disruption of normal community functions; whether special populations are impacted, such as the elderly, low income, or the unemployed; the extent to which voluntary agencies and state and local programs can meet the needs of those affected; the extent to which the property affected is covered by insurance; and the average amount of individual assistance offered by the state.”
Ige signed the “Request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration” today after he received the preliminary damage assessment.
The governor is asking for assistance from the Public Assistance Grant Program, the Individual Assistance Program, and the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance program for Oahu and Kauai, as well as assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Grant program statewide.
The state is also seeking reimbursement for highway rebuilding through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program.
The floods and landslides resulted in the evacuation of more than 475 people via U.S. Army Chinook and Hawaii Army National Guard Blackhawks helicopters, and an unknown number people rescued by a volunteer flotilla of boats. At the same time, U.S. Army helicopter crews delivered an estimated 43,000 pounds of food, water and clothing.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho proclaimed an emergency for the Garden Isle on April 14, followed by a state emergency proclamation on April 15.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell proclaimed an emergency for the city on April 18. Ige issued a supplementary proclamation the same day that expanded his original proclamation to include Honolulu, his office said.