(ABOVE PHOTO) President Barack Obama takes a phone call in the Oval Office, Sept. 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama signed a Public Assistance Disaster Declaration for Tropical Storm Iselle today in Washington D.C.
The White House reported that President Barack Obama “has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Tropical Storm Iselle during the period of August 7-9, 2014.”
Hawaii’s governor issued a release, saying the president’s declaration was in response to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s request for federal aid.
“We are working together to support the County of Hawaii’s needs to prepare for another possible disaster as a lava flow threatens to impact and isolate several communities in the Puna District,” Gov. Abercrombie said in the release.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the President’s action “makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Tropical Storm Iselle in Hawaii and Maui counties.”
FEMA says federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. The agency reported that Kenneth K. Suiso has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
The state says today’s declaration “allows for assistance for emergency work and repair or replacement of public facilities that received damage on Aug. 7-9, 2014. It also allows for a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to assist all counties.”
The state says the declaration is not related to the application for a Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance, which was rejected by FEMA last month. The state and Hawaii County “continue to gather sufficient additional information to justify a successful appeal,” said the state.
FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono issued a joint statement.
“This is great news for the thousands of people in Puna who were affected by Iselle,” Senator Schatz said. “This federal assistance is critical to supporting our communities’ ongoing recovery. I thank President Obama for recognizing the critical needs of the many families still rebuilding in Puna.”
“I thank President Obama for issuing a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Senator Hirono. “Families and the community continue to rebuild after Tropical Storm Iselle hit over a month ago and much of the damage to our farms and homes will take many years to rebuild. Similar to how our communities came together during the disaster, we’ll continue to come together during recovery. I look forward to the ongoing work with my colleagues in our joint effort to help ensure people get the resources they need to rebuild.”
UPDATE: Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued this statement in response to the news:
We want to thank President Obama, Governor Abercrombie, and all those who worked on this request for assistance to restore our public infrastructure following Tropical Storm Iselle. This federal assistance will help us to repair public facilities and mitigate future hazards. However, individual assistance for our residents and homeowners is also needed, and our team continues to work with the state on our appeal to convince FEMA to reconsider our request for individual assistance.”Mayor Billy Kenoi on Sept. 12, 2014
Here is a summary of “key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of Hawaii”, courtesy FEMA.
Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:
Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
How to Apply for Assistance:
Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.FEMA Release Number: HQ-14-077FS