By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii residents who suffered tsunami damage are urged to report their losses by calling 211. Reporting damage may help individuals and the state secure financial help from the federal government.
Dialing 211 connects people with Aloha United Way. The agency is serving as a clearing house for State Civil Defense.
"We are collecting all of the damage reports. So folks can call in, tell us what happened in their home, their property, and then we will gather that information and pass it on to civil defense," said Norm Baker, Aloha United Way Vice President.
Even people who have insurance to cover damage are urged to call 211. The damage totals will be compiled by Civil Defense. The state will then use the numbers to maximize financial assistance from the federal government in the vent such funds become available.
"The state of Hawaii has requested a joint damage assessment with FEMA," said Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Manning met in Honolulu with Adjutant General Darryll Wong and State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira Friday.
"We'll have teams coming in the next few days to travel around the islands, look for damage - look both at damaged infrastructure, harbors, ports - public infrastructure as well as damage to homes and businesses," Manning said during an exclusive interview with Hawaii News Now.
"We will assess the damage; work with the state to decide what kind of assistance might be required. Should it get to that level, should there be enough damage that the state needs federal assistance, the governor may choose to request it ... a disaster declaration from the president," Manning said.
There is no firm timetable on when Governor Neil Abercrombie will request federal help from President Obama.
While Hawaii waits, Manning urges everyone to educate themselves on how to survive the next disaster.
"What should you do in an earthquake? What's the first thing you need to do to protect yourself and your family and save your life?" Manning asked.
"Duck, cover, and hold. Get away from falling debris and hold on. If you are on the shore, go to high ground. Don't think about it. Too many people lose their lives because they are stopping to be curious. They're thinking, 'No, that's not really going to happen to me.' Don't wait to see the tsunami coming. If you are on the shore and the ground shakes, go to high ground."