Maui News

Ige Signs Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

May 3, 2018, 10:39 AM HST
* Updated May 3, 10:41 AM
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Photo of Gov. Ige signing Presidential Disaster Declaration May 2, 2018. PC: Office of Gov. Ige.

Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation today urged President Donald Trump to act swiftly on Governor David Ige’s request for a Presidential disaster declaration for areas on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu impacted by severe flooding.

US Senator Brian Schatz said the declaration will help ensure that the impacted communities can access important federal funding and resources to recover.

“Based on the severity of the damage, Governor Ige has requested that you issue a Presidential disaster declaration to allow residents and State and County officials to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, and any other Federal assistance available,” the delegation wrote in a letter to President Trump. “Within existing rules and regulations, we urgently request your speedy action to approve his request, and issue a Presidential declaration.”

Governor David Ige asked the President of the United States to declare a major disaster for the State of Hawai‘i as a result of severe flooding and landslides on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu between April 13 and April 16, 2018.

Gov. Ige signed the Request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration on Wednesday, May 2, shortly after the Joint Preliminary Assessment was delivered to his office. Gov. Ige is asking for assistance from the Public Assistance Grant Program, the Individual Assistance Program, and the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance program for the two counties. The governor also requested assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Grant program statewide.

“This disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected county governments. Federal assistance is necessary,” said Gov. Ige.

The county, state, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the SBA performed a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment for public assistance, and found the floods caused more than $19.7 million in damage.

The preliminary assessment does not include highway and roadway damage. The state is seeking reimbursement for highway recovery efforts through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program.

The assessment is preliminary, and state, county and federal agencies expect more damage to be identified; however, Gov. Ige has requested the presidential declaration because the damage assessed so far, already meets the public assistance thresholds in each county.

This assessment was required before Gov. Ige could sign and submit the Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration.  The assessment also includes:

                        Kaua‘i:

      • Rainfall totals during the 48-hour period ending at 6pm Apr. 15:
        • Wainiha – 32.35 inches
        • Hanalei  – 28.41 inches
        • Mt. Waialeale – 22.34 inches
      • More than 475 people evacuated via helicopter (undetermined number of people evacuated by boat)
      • More than 350 homes damaged (unknown number of businesses impacted)
      • U.S. Army helicopter crews delivered about 43,000 pounds of food, water, and clothing to distressed areas between Apr. 16-17

                        O‘ahu:

      • Rainfall total for 48-hour period ending 6pm Apr. 15:

      The Mānoa Lyon Arboretum – 11.96 inches

      • 900 tons of debris from roads and private properties
      • More than 280 homes damaged
      • About 180 families received services at Disaster Recovery Centers

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho proclaimed an emergency for the Garden Island on April 14, appropriately followed by the governor’s state emergency proclamation on April 15. Mayor Kirk Caldwell proclaimed an emergency for the City and County of Honolulu on April 18. The governor promptly issued a supplementary proclamation the same day, expanding the original proclamation to include the City and County of Honolulu.

Full text of the letter follows:

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Dear Mr. President:

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We request your expeditious review of Hawai‘i Governor David Ige’s request for a Presidential disaster declaration for areas impacted by flooding on Kaua‘i and O’ahu on April 13th and 14th. A copy of the Governor’s request is enclosed for your reference.

Historic precipitation on these islands—more than 32 inches in 48 hours in the hardest hit region of northern Kaua‘i, and approximately five inches of rainfall in one hour in one of the hard-hit regions of O‘ahu—caused extreme flooding. Hundreds of homes, along with local businesses and public infrastructure have suffered terrible impacts from the flooding. It is clear from preliminary assessments that recovery will overwhelm State and County resources. These communities will need help from the Federal government to recover.

Based on the severity of the damage, Governor Ige has requested that you issue a Presidential disaster declaration to allow residents and State and County officials to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, and any other Federal assistance available. Within existing rules and regulations, we urgently request your speedy action to approve his request, and issue a Presidential declaration.

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