Kauai, Oahu homeowners affected by flooding to get federal help

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted approval for the state’s request for individual assistance for Kauai and Oahu residents affected by April’s severe storms and flooding.

The initial request for help for homeowners was denied in May.

In mid-June, the state appealed that decision based on additional data. That included the identification of additional damages resulting from the disaster, additional insurance information that has found a significant number of uninsured losses, updated damage and trauma information and the documentation of additional economic/unemployment impact from the disaster.

“This is a very special day, a historic day,” said Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho. “This means support to our families, this means getting into the homes of our families. It took a while and it took a lot of effort and determination and a can-do attitude and working together and shaking every tree to make sure we have numbers we needed.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell recalls going to the Windward side after the flooding. “We were throwing away peoples beds, furniture, washing machines and dryers— and now with this result with Gov. Ige saying go back and try a second time, these people can see these grants being made so they can get back on their feet again.”

At least 760 homes were impacted in some way by the storm and floods on Kauai and Oahu, including 187 that were destroyed or sustained major damage.

Of the 187 homes destroyed or severely damaged, 109 were owner-occupied.

FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph Diemont said he’s been impressed by what he’s witnessed here in Hawaii. 

“The whole community concept we keep hoping for was witnessed strongly here,” he said. “They worked side-by-side, neighbor helping neighbor. It’s a model for how you respond to a diaster.”

Recovery disaster centers will open to Kauai and Oahu families on Friday morning. FEMA says the maximum grant a homeowner, without insurance, can receive is $34,000. 

“Once you register, an inspector will come to your home and inspect the damage, they will ask for receipts and photos and what it looked like before and what you’ve done to repair. A certain amount of money will be determined, it won’t exactly be what they put into it, and then a check will be sent to the family,” said Diemont. 

Homeowners can register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or online at disasterassistance.gov and by visiting one of the disaster recovery centers. 

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz released the following statement on President Donald Trump’s approval of the request: 

“FEMA has been a great partner throughout the recovery process, and we thank the administration for approving this request. The communities on Kauai and Oahu are still rebuilding, and these new resources will be helpful in that effort. This decision also means that FEMA will open Disaster Recovery Centers on both islands so that people will have direct access to resources.”

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