(BIVN) – Approximately $170,000 worth of debt has been cleared among Puna’s eruption survivors who were told they owned money to FEMA for assistance they received during the volcanic disaster in 2018.
Federal and state officials – with county support – met with residents earlier this month and have completed their review. State emergency officials issued this media release:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), with support from the County of Hawai‘i, deployed assistance specialists to Hawai‘i Island on August 5-9 to meet with recipients of disaster aid who received letters indicating they might owe a federal debt following the receipt of FEMA disaster assistance following the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. The Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i provided representation to qualified recipients and identified issues that may be systemic to lower Puna.
This combined effort between the County, State, Federal and Non-Governmental Organizations to address eligibility issues resulted in approximately $170,000 worth of debt cleared. Among the questions about assistance eligibility were documentation of ownership, pre-disaster occupancy and duplication of assistance by insurance.
FEMA sent 69 letters to applicants under consideration for recoupment that they needed to appeal FEMA’s decision within the time stated on their recoupment letter. Five applicants resolved their cases prior to the visit of specialists to the Big Island; the remaining 64 were invited to meet with specialists to review their cases. In total, 35 applicants’ debts were cleared, totaling $153,536.81, and three applicants’ debts were reduced, totaling $16,352.78.