(BIVN) – Mayor Harry Kim is conveying his appreciation to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its help during the Big Islandʻs recent natural disasters.
The mayor expressed deep gratitude on Thursday morning to Mr. Bern Ruiz, the Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA Region IX, for the agency’s “their tremendous help” during the eruption of Kilauea and hurricane emergencies on Hawai’i Island.
According to the County, Mr. Ruiz made a special visit to notify the Mayor that a Presidential Disaster Declaration had just been granted to Hawai’i County, “paving the way for financial assistance to County government for the repair of County government facilities damaged by Hurricane Lane.” The County will receive public assistance to support emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities on Hawai’i Island, and will be eligible to apply for assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Program “for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural disasters.”
Today, the joint federal/state/county Disaster Recovery Center located at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility will close permanently, FEMA says.
Survivors are encouraged to stay in touch with FEMA, officials say. The deadline to apply for assistance has passed, but applicants can still track their application and should notify FEMA of changes to their information such as a mailing address, phone numbers and email address. They may also upload insurance settlement information or other documentation online.
“I want Hawai’i’s people to know how FEMA personnel stayed with us 24/7 throughout the entire eruption,” said Mayor Kim in Thursdayʻs media release. “I will never forget when FEMA personnel worked through the night to ensure the Disaster Recovery Center would be ready for residents of Puna by the next morning.” Mayor Kim said that “he told the FEMA personnel that it could wait another day to get ready. But they insisted that one day would make a big difference to the victims of the eruption, and after working all night, the Disaster Recovery Center was open in the morning.”
“I need the entire FEMA organization to know how grateful we are to them for coming to our aid,” Mayor Kim said.