President signs disaster declaration in light of Puna lava flow

Photo: County of Hawaii

President Barack Obama signed Monday a Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance.

The declaration is in response to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s Oct. 24 request for federal aid to supplement local emergency protective measures in response to the June 27th lava flow.

It allows for emergency protective measures under the Public Assistance Program and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to assist Hawaii County.

“The Public Assistance Program under FEMA is an opportunity for the county and the government agencies who have contributed funds or incurred expenses with preparation for the impact of lava — that includes everything from DOE bringing in those portable classroom structures, all of the roads that were put in, those alternate access roads — may qualify for some federal reimbursements,” said Darryl Oliveira, director, Hawaii County Civil Defense, “so a substantial opportunity for the county and other government agencies to recover some of the costs pre any impact from the lava flow.”

Emergency protective measures undertaken by Hawaii County include the repair, restoration and re-establishment of alternate routes in and out of affected communities, including Railroad Avenue and Beach Road at an estimated cost of $3 million and Chain of Craters Road at an estimated cost of $15 million.

State efforts include measures to accommodate approximately 900 schoolchildren that will be displaced by the lava flow, and support to county requests for additional air quality monitoring.

Kenneth K. Suiso has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Suiso said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Following 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.

Assistance for the state and affected local governments can include as required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency protective measures (Category B) 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 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.)

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.

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