1,419 visited disaster centers as normalcy slowly returns to Puna

New numbers from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency provide a glimpse of the damage Iselle caused in Hawaii County.

Officials say out of 1,419 people who visited the state’s two disaster assistance and recovery centers last week, 1,059 filled out intake forms.

Six-hundred-forty-three visitors reported impacts including power outages, debris and food spoilage, and 260 visitors reported damage to their homes.

Many also gave anecdotal accounts of damage, from personal belongings and vehicles to flood and gutter damage and inaccessible driveways.

Work on the Big Island of Hawaii is far from over, but progress has been steady.

“There’s a lot of resiliency in Puna,” said Hawaii Island mayor Billy Kenoi. “A lot of the community, the shops are open, the schools are open, so a lot of normalcy has returned.”

Kenoi says crews completed damage assessments Tuesday and those reports will now be forwarded to FEMA in three areas: individual assistance to homeowners, public infrastructure and for support and help for farmers.

Damage totals to structures and monetary losses have not been finalized. “We still have our our community assistant centers up and open,” Kenoi said.

Kenoi says he was blown away to learn about the disaster relief telethon. “Can I just send a big aloha and mahalo to KHON for doing this telethon,” he said, “and American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter. It makes you feel so good.”

Kenoi expressed deep appreciation knowing some of these volunteers are enduring as well.

“A lot of times the volunteers and the workers who are reaching out to others also have family in Puna or are from Puna themselves and have been hit themselves so pretty amazing,” he said. “On behalf of Hawaii Island, on behalf of the people and families from Puna, we just wanted to extend big heartfelt and sincere mahalo. Thank you so much!”

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