President Bush cleared Hawaii for millions of dollars in disaster relief from damages caused by flooding and heavy rains.
Bush signed an emergency disaster declaration Tuesday that qualifies residents on Kauai and Oahu for relief money to help recover from the storms.
“President Bush understands that, unlike many disasters which threaten people and property for a few hours or a few days, this was a prolonged disaster lasting nearly six weeks,” said Gov. Linda Lingle.
The declaration was in response to severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides between Feb. 20 and April 2.
The state estimates that damage from the failure of the Kaloko reservoir and severe flooding could exceed $50 million.
Federal assistance could include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.
“We look forward to working with the federal government, relative to individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation that may be provided through this declaration,” said Kauai County Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
The Kaloko dam break on Kauai killed seven people. Flooding destroyed 10 homes and caused major damages to 130 more.
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Senate moved toward approving $33.5 million in disaster assistance for Hawaii, including $6 million on relief to sugar companies, $20 million for road repairs and between $4 million and $7 million for debris clearing.
“We’ve got unbelievable damage,” said E. Alan Kennett, president and general manager of Gay & Robinson Inc., a family-run sugar business on Kauai.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a separate request for a disaster designation due to crop damage. That makes Hawaii farmers eligible for low-interest loans.
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