President Provides Federal Aid for Hawaii Storms

January 7, 2009

President George W. Bush has declared Oahu and Kauai disaster areas, an action that provides federal aid to individuals and businesses, and for repair of public facilities damaged by mid-December storms.

The aid does not apply to damage caused by a more recent storm that knocked out electricity on Oahu.

Starting Dec. 10 and lasting six days, substantial rains pounded the two islands.

More than 500 Oahu residents reported damage to their homes, apartments or cars. Kauai residents also suffered losses.

Ray Lovell, spokesman for the state Civil Defense office, said officials roughly estimate that the value of damage to private homes, property and farms could reach as high as $40 million, and that damage to public infrastructure could cost an additional $10 million to repair.

The federal assistance stems from a Dec. 24 request from Gov. Linda Lingle. The aid will be handled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

It will include grants for temporary housing and home repairs. Low-interest disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners for the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed real property.

Homeowners and renters also can apply for loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property.

Businesses large and small can borrow up to $2 million to deal with damaged real property, machinery, inventory and other business assets.

Federal funding also will be available to the city of Honolulu and Kauai County, as well as certain nonprofit groups, on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities.

“We will be swift in our efforts, along with our partners at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help Hawaii disaster victims,” Sandy K. Baruah, acting administrator of the Small Business Administration, said in a statement.

The aid announced Jan. 5, 2009, will not apply to agricultural losses. The federal Department of Agriculture is now reviewing a separate request from Lingle for that assistance, Lovell said.

Federal officials will soon open offices to process applications. In the meantime, the process can be started by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.

The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice.

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