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Trump signs disaster declaration for Oahu and Kauai flooding

  • DENNIS ODA / doda@staradvertiser.com

    Workers and heavy construction equipment clear mud and debris from Kuhio Highway which leads to the cut-off Kauai community of Wainiha on April 19.

  • BRUCE ASATO / basato@staradvertiser.com

    Household items sit in the front lawn and driveway of a Papai Atreet home in Aina Haina on April 15 as a team of friends and volunteers try to help the homeowner salvage what they could and dump what could not be salvaged.

President Donald Trump has approved a Hawaii’s request for a major disaster declaration for the April floods, landslides and mudslides on Kauai and Oahu.

Gov. David Ige, who requested the federal declaration from the White House on May 2, said today in a news release that the approval paves the way for assistance with emergency work and the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged public facilities on Oahu and Kauai.

“I want to thank our FEMA partners for their on-the-ground assistance and rapid response to this request. I have spoken with mayors Caldwell and Carvalho to let them know help is on the way,” Ige said. “I have spoken with mayors (Kirk) Caldwell and (Bernard) Carvalho to let them know help is on the way.”

Ige submitted the request on May 2 following a joint preliminary damage assessment completed by state, county and federal agencies. Hawaii’s congressional delegation, including

Parts of Oahu and Kauai were deluged with heavy rain from April 13 t0 16, including a possible U.S. record of rainfall in a 24-hour period in Waipa on the Garden Isle, where one gauge recorded just under 50 inches in a 24-hour period ending midday on April 15. (The possible record is being reviewed by the National Climatic Extremes Committee for certification.)

The north shore Kauai communities of Haena and Wainiha were cutoff by landslides on Kuhio Highway. East Oahu neighborhoods, which experienced about 5 inches of rain in a few hours on April 13, also saw heavy damage to homes, business and other organizations.

U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa had all urged Trump to swiftly approve Ige’s request for a disaster declaration.

After today’s announcement, Schatz said, “FEMA has been a great partner in this process, and we thank the administration for approving this disaster declaration. We are not done with the recovery effort, and we are in the middle of a disaster on Hawaii island, but this is welcome news.”

According to Schatz’s office, the declaration includes:

>> Hawaii now qualifies for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

>> The Small Business Administration may now provide low-interest loans to private, nonprofit organizations that provide critical services including churches, shelters, and some schools.

>> U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency loans are available for farmers and ranchers.

>> Federal Housing Administration homeowners at risk of foreclosure because of the disaster may stop or delay foreclosure by 90 days.

>> Those who have lost their homes and who are buying or rebuilding another home can receive mortgage assistance insurance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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