Gov. Ige seeks major disaster declaration after flood damage tops $19 million

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Gov. David Ige is asking President Trump to declare a major disaster for Hawaii following last month’s destructive flooding Kauai and Oahu. The Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration quickly followed the release of a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment, which found the floods caused more than $19.7 million in damage. The assessment is preliminary, and more damage is likely to be identified.

Gov. Ige is asking for assistance from the Public Assistance Grant Program, the Individual Assistance Program, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance program for the two counties. The governor also requested assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Grant program statewide.

“This disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected county governments. Federal assistance is necessary,” Gov. Ige said. 

Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment

State, County, Small Business Administration (SBA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives performed a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (JPDA) of individual private properties from Sunday, April 22, 2018 to Friday April 27, 2018. The JPDA team validated 532 homes impacted by the flooding and landslides, five of which are second homes. Over 115 homes were identified with sufficient damage to be classified as “destroyed” or with “major damage” by FEMA’s standards.

State, county, and FEMA representatives also completed a JPDA of public properties from Monday, April 23 to Thursday, April 26, 2018. Total damage and emergency work across state, Kauai County, and City & County of Honolulu agencies was more than $19.7 million.

The damage assessments are a snapshot in time, showing what the teams identified and for which they could provide a cost estimate. Other costs, such as the cost to remove debris from county owned roads within the City and County of Honolulu, the cost of removing green waste from beaches owned by Kauai County, and the cost to the Department of Education to open a school in the isolated community on Kauai’s north shore were not included.

The values provided by the JPDAs are a factor in the final determination whether Hawaii will receive a presidential declaration of a Major Disaster, and the federal aid that accompanies that declaration. For the JPDA of individual private properties, other factors besides the number of homes determined to be “destroyed” or with “major damage” will be considered, including 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.

The state’s application will now go to FEMA for review before being transmitted to the president.

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