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Hawaii County plan will buy homes destroyed in 2018 eruption

COURTESY USGS
                                A thick, dense plume of volcanic gases billows from lava fountains at fissure 8 in June 2018.
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COURTESY USGS

A thick, dense plume of volcanic gases billows from lava fountains at fissure 8 in June 2018.

HILO >> People whose homes were destroyed in 2018 by the eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island will be able to sell them to Hawaii County for up to $230,000, thanks to a federal grant.

The Hawaii County Council unanimously voted Wednesday to provide about $84 million in funding for recovery projects.

“These programs will help Puna residents displaced by the eruption secure stable housing and recover financially,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said in a statement Wednesday. “In addition to these programs, the county will continue to apply recovery dollars to support initiatives that help the community recover and become more resilient.” I’d move this quote up much higher.

The money for the grant will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

About $78 million will be used for the voluntary housing buyout program, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. The sales price will be determined by the property’s value before the eruption.

Lava from the eruption destroyed 612 homes, including 294 primary residences in Puna.

Another $1.6 million will go toward helping people move while the remaining $4 million will cover administrative expenses.

County Finance Director Deanna Sako said Wednesday the grant is one of the largest ever accepted by the county.

The buyout application process is expected to begin by the end of April. The county’s recovery officer, Douglas Le, said a housing survey assessing eruption-related needs in Puna has been sent to over 1,200 people.

Le said 171 responses had been received as of Tuesday.

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