President Donald Trump approved Friday a request from Gov. David Ige to declare the State of Hawaii a major disaster as a result of the ongoing seismic activity and volcanic eruption on Hawaii Island.
The declaration makes federal funding available to the state and to eligible local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Kilauea’s volcanic eruption and earthquakes in Hawaii County.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Since May 3, Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii have dedicated more than $400,000 in emergency protective measures for the lava flow and earthquakes in the Kilauea East Rift Zone.
The estimated cost to protect residents over the next 30 days is expected to exceed $2.9 million.
Officials say these costs do not include permanent work or damages incurred from the earthquakes, and costs will skyrocket should large-scale air and sea evacuations become necessary.
On May 3, both the county and the governor issued emergency proclamations. The governor’s proclamation authorized the expenditure of state funds as appropriate to provide for the quick and efficient relief of damages, losses and suffering that have resulted from the volcanic eruption and seismic activity.
The governor also directed the execution of the State of Hawaii Emergency Operations plan.
“As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases. A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,” said Ige. “Federal assistance would be necessary to enable us to successfully conduct such large-scale operations.”