Maui News

Multi-Agency Teams Evaluate Maui Property Damage from “Kona Low” Storm

December 20, 2021, 3:43 PM HST
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A preliminary damage assessment team inspects a washout on the Pi‘ilani Highway on Maui on Dec. 20, 2021. PC: HI-EMA

A multi-agency team of state, county and federal workers began an in-person assessment on Monday of damages on Maui caused by the “Kona Low” weather system which dumped more than 20 inches of rain on areas of Hawaiʻi early in December.

The teams began their work in Maui County, touring sites to document and assess the extent of damage to public property.

Teams organized by the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency were scheduled to inspect at least seven sites on Maui on Monday, including damage to the Pi’ilani Highway and the Kula State Forest Reserve.

These preliminary assessments help state, county, and federal leaders determine if the storm caused enough damage to meet the requirements for a federal disaster declaration. If approved, a declaration could potentially unlock government assistance to public or private property owners/operators in the form of grants or loans. Future inspections will assess damage to private property.

The process takes time and the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency advises that government financial assistance may not become available.  Data collection and review of public and private property will continue in the weeks ahead.

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“As recovery efforts from this storm continue, we urge residents to be patient and to help each other while we work as quickly as possible to complete the assessment process,” said Luke Meyers, Administrator of HI-EMA.

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HI-EMA encourages residents to document their damage with photos/video and contact their insurance agency if they haven’t already done so.

Additionally, each County has online tools to report residential and business damage. These forms are used only to collect information that will help local officials understand the damage that occurred and impacts on the community; they are not applications for assistance. Those tools can be found here.

Assessments are expected to continue in Maui County and begin in the City and County of Honolulu this week, with assessments in Hawaiʻi County still to be determined.

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“This most recent severe weather is a reminder that disasters can strike at any time,” Meyers said, adding that it is vital to know your hazards and be prepared.

For more information visit ready.hawaii.gov

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