FEMA Approves Recovery Assistance for Big Island Quake Victims

October 25, 2006

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved relief and recovery assistance to Big Island victims of the recent earthquake in Hawaii, said Gov. Linda Lingle on Oct. 23.

The aid may include grants for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses, Lingle said in a news release.

Individuals, households and businesses may apply for the aid.

Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.

“While no amount of assistance can cover the loss of personal sentimental items, the announcement by FEMA today will help bring some peace of mind to many residents,” Lingle said. “We will continue to work with FEMA and Hawaii County to ensure that those who are eligible for assistance receive the help they need in a timely manner.”

Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, the state adjutant general, told KHON that the federal aid had so far only been approved for the Big Island.

Assessment teams are now due to visit Maui, Oahu, and Kauai counties to see if residents and businesses there qualify for help, Lee said.

Applicants for assistance can register with FEMA online at www.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech impairments can call 1-800-462-7585. Telephone lines will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week for the time being.

Callers should have the applicant’s full legal name, current phone number, social security number, address, and insurance coverage information on hand when dialing. The applicant will also need proof of residency, officials said.

Separately, Big Island officials said repairs to two Waimea reservoirs damaged in the earthquakes could cost as much as $2 million.

Water officials had drained one reservoir and were draining the second damaged structure into a county water treatment plant Monday.

Water supply officials and state engineers found leaks in the reservoirs last week during post-earthquake inspections.

There are no restrictions on water use in effect for the Waimea area because a third 50-million-gallon reservoir remains intact, said Big Island Department of Water Supply Manager Milton Pavao.

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