Preparedness & Recovery

Trump Approves Disaster Declaration Due to Floods

The approval means millions of dollars in federal funding will be available for emergency work and repair and replacement of damaged public facilities on Oahu and Kauai.

by Timothy Hurley, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / May 9, 2018
This Sunday, April 15, 2018 image taken from video provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows flooding along Kauai's Hanalei Bay, Hawaii. AP/Brandon Verdura

(TNS) - President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the April flooding that triggered nearly $20 million in damage and destroyed or partially damaged more than 530 homes on Kauai and Oahu, it was announced Tuesday.

The approval means millions of dollars in federal funding will be available for emergency work and repair and replacement of damaged public facilities on Oahu and Kauai.

Gov. David Ige submitted the request May 2 following a preliminary damage assessment by teams from state, county and federal agencies.

Ige said the request for individual assistance from the federal government is still under review.

Windward areas of Oahu and Kauai experienced torrential rainfall, mudslides and flooding April 13-16, including a possible U.S. rainfall record during a 24-hour period in Waipa on Kauai, where a gauge recorded nearly 50 inches in a 24-hour period.

The Kauai communities of Haena and Wainiha were cut off by landslides on Kuhio Highway, while some neighborhoods in East Oahu experienced heavy damage.

After the storm, Hawaii’s four-member congressional delegation all urged Trump to approve Ige’s request for a disaster declaration.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa said Tuesday that the state is being challenged by disasters on three islands, including an erupting volcano destroying property in Puna.

“Despite the difficulties we face, it is encouraging to see neighbors helping neighbors and people from all over the state helping out. That’s what we do in Hawaii when things get tough. We work through it, together,” Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a helicopter working in flood recovery operations on Kauai’s north shore lost power Tuesday morning and was forced to make an emergency landing in Lumahai.

The pilot was not injured, county officials said.

According to reports, the helicopter under county contract to assist with recovery operations had transferred rubbish collected from the affected Wainiha and Haena area and was on its way back to Princeville Airport when it lost power.

County rescue personnel responded after being notified at about 11:45 a.m., and the pilot was picked up by a helicopter flying in the same area.

The downed aircraft is in an inaccessible area and will be removed at a later time, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified, and an investigation remains ongoing, officials said.

In other storm-related news, the state Department of Health on Tuesday canceled the brown-water advisory at Hanalei Bay. The waters at seven other beaches are still designated as polluted.

Elsewhere, the nonprofit Child & Family Service is offering free, one-on-one counseling to families having trouble coping with the impacts of the flood.

Funded by the Hawaii Community Foundation Kauai Relief and Recovery Fund, Child & Family Serv­ice will have professional counselors at Hale Halawai Ohana o Hanalei through May.

The nonprofit said families are welcome to walk in to meet with counselors at the Hanalei center, 5299 Kuhio Highway, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 245-4195.

“After a disaster, it’s important to take care of your emotional health, and to pay attention to how you and your family members are feeling and acting,” Novelyn Hinazumi, CFS director of Kauai programs, said in a news release.

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