(BIVN) – An emotional moment took place during the Hawaiʻi County Council Finance Committee meeting in Hilo on Tuesday, as the Interim Recovery Strategy for the 2018 Kīlauea eruption was advanced.
A teary-eyed councilwoman Sue Lee Loy embraced Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz after the administration signaled its acceptance of their re-worked plan. The councilmembers were expecting push-back that never materialized.
“This interim recovery strategy is my heart for Puna,” Kierkiewicz commented, with some members of the Puna community in the audience. “If I could wrap my arms around you and give you a lei of aloha, this is it.”
The Interim Recovery Strategy, which “establishes a plan for interim recovery efforts including management of funding sources, spending, and goals and objectives for restoring economy, housing and infrastructure,” comes forth one year after the end of the destructive eruption of Kīlauea on the lower East Rift Zone.
Among the listed objectives that received testimony in support during Tuesday’s meeting:
Accelerate Development of a Boat Ramp in Puna. Work in partnership with the State Department of Land It Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation to accelerate the process to locate and construct a boat ramp in Puna to support subsistence gathering rights and area lawaiʻa ( fishermen/ fisherwomen), a group that drives critically important economy of the region. Keep Hawaiʻis Congressional delegation apprised of the evolving situation so they can advocate for funding and assist with process acceleration as necessary.
Also, the strategy aims to boost Kua O Kā La New Century Public Charter School, which was destroyed during the eruption. The document states this goal:
Assist Kua O Kā La New Century Public Charter School with Interim Needs and Permanent Relocation. Hundreds of students were displaced as a result of the school being taken during the 2018 lava flow. Utilize existing funds to support immediate temporary facility upgrade needs. Convene stakeholder meetings to keep immediate and long- term efforts progressing forward. State, County, and community stakeholders must unite and work with a sense of urgency to assist Kua O Kā La NCPCS in finding and securing a permanent location.
There was some tension in the chamber over whether or not the councilmembers’ vision fit into the framework that Mayor Harry Kim’s administration has been working on. During the meeting, however, Diane Ley and Roy Takemoto, who have taken the lead on the recovery planning effort, accepted the council resolution and were supportive. “It’s complex and as we figured it out, we may have been talking too much among ourselves and not including you,” Takemoto said, “so reset seems to be a popular term at this meeting today. And we totally buy into that. So going forward this would be a good blueprint. We look forward to improved communications.”
The resolution adopting the Interim Recovery Strategy next goes before the full council.