Hawaii Plans $550M Request for Disaster Recovery

August 13, 2018

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim is planning to ask the state Legislature for $550 million for disaster recovery following the effects of the Kilauea volcano eruption.

Kim said he discussed a conceptual plan with Gov. David Ige last week, and Hawaii County officials are preparing a package for the special legislative session, which has not yet been scheduled, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

Kim’s administration has asked the county council to provide feedback on the legislative package by next week and consider a joint resolution on it. The administration declined to release the plan until it’s sent to legislative leaders this week.

The three months of lava flows and earthquakes following the May eruption contributed to the delay of the formation of a detailed plan. The plan is needed before the state Legislature will meet to consider funding.

“We continue to work with Mayor Kim to ensure that we have the necessary resources to keep the community safe and develop the long-term recovery plan for Hawaii County,” Ige said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “We need to identify what the specific needs are, the costs attached and the timeline before we consider a special session.”

The island has received assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and about $12 million in emergency funding from the state, but that money can only be used for immediate emergency response needs.

The island needs new roads, housing and parks lost from the lava flows, as well as work in rebuilding the agriculture and tourism industries, State Sen. Russell Ruderman said, whose district covers an affected area. The county government should not downplay what the island needs, he said.

“It’s my strong recommendation that we ask for plenty of money and not be shy about it,” Ruderman said. “It’s not the time to be small; it’s not the time to be cautious about it.”

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