City to appeal after Oahu, Kauai homeowners denied FEMA individual assistance

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city announced on Monday that Kauai and Oahu homeowners can still report flood damage to the city for a FEMA individual assistance appeal, despite last week's denial of the state's request.

There is the possibility that some homes weren't included in the post-disaster damage assessment process, according to city officials. The city's goal is to identify residential properties on Oahu that weren't in the initial survey.

City officials have 30 days to appeal the original FEMA decision.

"I have seen the significant damages that our Kauai people have endured; and that's why we are doing our best to readdress all qualifiers in our appeal for this funding," said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., in a news release.

"And while this program for individuals may not seem like a lot, our residents truly need every assistance possible. So I encourage all affected to please submit their report today."

The original request for individual assistance by the state was denied because FEMA said Hawaii did not meet the threshold for the number of homes destroyed to qualify for the special help and because too many homeowners had insurance.

The governor's office said Thursday that it is appealing that decision, pointing out that the threshold — set at 173 homes — is unofficial.

The state's preliminary damage assessment found 117 homes on Kauai and Oahu were destroyed or several damaged. In all, state officials said some 532 homes sustained some damage in the historic rains that swamped Oahu and Kauai last month.

The governor's office said about half of those who owned homes that were destroyed had insurance.

"The damage from this event was significant in each of the designated areas," said Jeffrey Byard, associate administrator for the FEMA Office of Response and Recovery, in a letter to the state this week.

"However, based on our review of all the information available ... it has been determined that the impact to individuals and households from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation."

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho said he is looking into other sources of help in the wake of the denial.

"We just found out the individual part is not coming out and we didn't have enough (homes damaged)," Carvalho told Hawaii News Now. "We're going to have to really re-group now, rethink, and use what we have now."

The president has approved a federal disaster declaration to help the state cover other costs associated with the flooding and mudslides.

"We do have the declaration from the president right now. We have the funding from the state. We have other resources," Carvalho said. "So we're really looking internally right now, evaluating everything, doing more assessments and we'll find a way but it's going to happen."

If your home or a neighbor's home was damaged by flooding from April 13 to April 14 and was not assessed by a team from the Red Cross or FEMA, you can report it on the city website, or by phone at 808-723-8960.

This story will be updated.

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