Long-term relief sought for Hawaii island

Local News

The eruption on Hawaii island last year destroyed some 700 homes, not including businesses, farms and schools.

People’s lives were turned upside-down, to say the least.    

Big island lawmakers are requesting $50 million in state aid to help with recovery, relief and rebuilding and will stage a news conference tomorrow to discuss their progress in that effort.

Hawaii County cannot bear the rebuilding burden alone, according to lawmakers who are requesting the large cash infusion.

The money would include loans to cover the local cost-share of federal aid — and the cost of housing assistance programs that federal dollars do not cover.

Mayor Harry Kim says he receives daily questions from residents wanting to know when their lives can go back to normal.

“It’s going to be something that the recovery’s going to be for a long time. I hate to say this, but for some, recovery will never be there because they lost everything and no amount of grants or federal loans will enable them to come back.”

Alongside the sense of loss — Kim says the pause in the eruption marks the first time since 1983 that there has not been active, eruptive activity on Hawaii island — and that has resulted in a real sense of joy and hope among residents. 

Kim acknowledges that $50 million is a lot of money. He has been assured that the state has it available, to supplement the $800- or $900-million in federal dollars that are coming the state’s way.

In the morning, there will be a hearing by several state house committees that could well result in good news for the beleaguered island.

“Tomorrow they will have a fairly good indication of how much money they’ll be able to give to Hawaii County.”

Stay tuned for updates, on TV and online, right here.

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