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Hawaii News

Unemployed on Big Island may qualify for disaster insurance

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Fissure 8 continued to pump lava and steam nearby a home on Nohea St. in Leilani Estates on Wednesday.

The toll from the ongoing Kilauea eruption in Lower Puna continues to rise, with Hawaii County Civil Defense setting the latest tally of homes destroyed at 614.

The number has been rising as officials go through the process of confirming losses by matching real property tax records with aerial surveys. The county Department of Finance is projecting a $5 million shortfall in real property tax revenue as a result of the eruption, which began May 3.

On Friday, Gov. David Ige announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has given the state permission to offer disaster unemployment assistance for Hawaii County residents.

Those who may be eligible for DUA benefits are individuals who were living or working in the affected area at the time of the disaster and unemployed as a direct result of the disaster. Eligible individuals also must not qualify for regular unemployment insurance. The DUA benefits begin the week of May 6 and expire the week ending Nov. 10.

Individuals may qualify for DUA benefits if they remain unemployed because of the disaster. Regular unemployment insurance and DUA benefits cannot be paid concurrently.

“I encourage all individuals who believe they may qualify to apply as soon as possible as the deadline for filing for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is July 23,” Ige said in a news release. “Eligibility is broader for this kind of assistance compared to regular unemployment insurance benefits.”

DUA eligibility includes the following:

>> Individuals who are prevented from reaching their job or self-employment location due to the disaster

>> Individuals who were to start employment or self-employment but were prevented from doing so because of the disaster

>> Individuals who became the major support of a household because of the death of the head of household due to the disaster

>> Individuals who cannot perform services in employment or self-employment due to an injury caused as a direct result of the disaster

“Applications for DUA require an in-person visit to the Unemployment Insurance office,” said Leonard Hoshijo, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. “Applicants should have their Social Security number, a copy of their most recent federal income tax returns and check stubs or other documentation to show proof of working or self-employment.”

Documentation for the self-employed can be obtained from banks or government entities, or affidavits from individuals having knowledge of their businesses.

For more information regarding DUA eligibility, go to labor.hawaii.gov/ui/assistance-programs.

The notice of DUA benefits available is posted at bit.ly/2K2SNPt.

Individuals also can visit the Hilo Claims Office, Kinoole Plaza, 1990 Kinoole St., Suite 101; or call 974-4086.

Workers unemployed due to the disaster can apply for regular unemployment insurance benefits by filing online at huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#.

In other developments

>> Civil Defense said Friday that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported an explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at 6:52 p.m. and that the resulting ash plume could affect the surrounding areas. Civil Defense said the wind might carry the ash plume to the southwest toward Wood Valley, Pahala and Ocean View.

>> More than 1,000 people affected by the volcanic activity have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which opened a disaster recovery center on Monday at the Keaau High School gym. The center remains open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Other agencies on hand include the U.S. Small Business Administration, which offers aid to small businesses and households.

>> Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported Friday there was little change in the eruption, as fissure 8 continued to feed a channel of lava flowing to the ocean at Kapoho.

>> The Tropic Care 2018 clinic offering free medical, dental and eye care will be open through the weekend, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Keaau High School. Expanded services include a free legal clinic from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today. Tropic Care is open to all, whether affected by the eruption or not.

>> A toll-free legal aid hotline is now available to those affected by the disaster. Those people facing legal issues who are unable to afford a lawyer can call 800-499-4302 toll-free from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. When connected to the hotline, callers should say they are seeking disaster-related legal assistance, give brief details of the assistance needed and in which area of Hawaii island they are located. Callers can also email their information to disasterhelp@legalaidhawaii.org.

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