Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation Urges President Trump To Quickly Approve Hawai‘i’s Disaster Declaration Request


WASHINGTON – Today, Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation urged President Donald Trump to act swiftly on Governor David Ige’s request for a presidential disaster declaration for areas across the state impacted by Hurricane Lane. The declaration will help ensure that the affected communities can access important federal funding and resources to recover.

“We request your quick action on Governor David Ige’s request for federal aid to help Hawai‘i recover from the flooding-related impacts of Hurricane Lane and recent wildfires,” the delegation wrote. “Hurricane Lane is the third natural disaster that Hawai‘i has faced since April of this year, and our impacted communities need the full suite of assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with the other federal disaster programs that become available upon the issuance of a presidential disaster declaration. Your initial emergency declaration for Hurricane Lane allowed for critical support as the state and counties made their preparations. We are grateful for your quick response to the Governor’s request at that time, and we request your continued support for the people of Hawai‘i.”

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

We request your quick action on Governor David Ige’s request for federal aid to help Hawai‘i recover from the flooding-related impacts of Hurricane Lane and recent wildfires. Hurricane Lane is the third natural disaster that Hawai‘i has faced since April of this year, and our impacted communities need the full suite of assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with the other federal disaster programs that become available upon the issuance of a presidential disaster declaration. Your initial emergency declaration for Hurricane Lane allowed for critical support as the state and counties made their preparations. We are grateful for your quick response to the Governor’s request at that time, and we request your continued support for the people of Hawai‘i.

Hurricane Lane struck Hawai‘i after the disastrous flooding on the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, (April 13-16, 2018) and K?lauea eruption on Hawai‘i Island (May 3, 2018, to the present). As a result, when Hurricane Lane struck, the state was still recovering. Notably, Kaua‘i had still not fully restored access to areas impacted by the earlier flooding event and necessary recovery costs from the volcanic eruption on Hawai‘i Island totaled an additional $800 million. Against this backdrop, Lane’s impacts were magnified because resources were already stretched and communities were exhausted by the earlier disasters.

Fortunately, Lane weakened considerably by the time it made its closest pass to Hawai‘i, and the state narrowly missed a direct hit. Even with these mitigating factors, its impacts were severe. East Hawai‘i Island experienced the wettest three-day period in its history, and firefighters rescued 39 people in an area that received four feet of rain. The rains overwhelmed three sewage pumping stations and more than nine million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged around Hilo Bay. On Maui, the high winds from Lane exacerbated three large wildfires that broke out over August 23-24, 2018, forcing the evacuation of 300 people while the county was under a hurricane warning. Damage to power lines left nearly 4,000 customers without power for multiple days. East Maui faced over 16 inches of rain, which caused major flooding. Kaua‘i, which was already recovering from April’s historic floods, saw over 30 inches of rain on its north shore. The Hanalei River flowed out of its banks, closing parts of the highway providing access to the northern part of the island.

In total, the Governor estimates that over 200 homes have been impacted by the recent hurricane and wildfires and over $8.6 million is needed in response and recovery costs. The state’s economy has also been harmed. Countless businesses have been compromised by physical damage and lost revenue, and the whole event has had significant negative impacts on Hawai’i’s visitor industry.

We are grateful for the prompt attention that the federal government has given in responding to Hawai‘i’s two earlier disasters this year, and we hope that FEMA will continue to support our state’s needs after Hurricane Lane.

Sincerely,

 

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