Big Island residents line up at Disaster Recovery Center seeking assistance

WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Trump has approved individual assistance for Hawaii Island residents impacted by the Kilauea eruption.

The announcement came Thursday and frees up federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for residents whose homes have been lost or damaged in light of the ongoing eruption.

Residents whose primary homes were destroyed or whose homes are inaccessible due to the lava flow, should register at the newly established FEMA Disaster Relief Center for possible assistance.

On Friday, a steady stream of eruption evacuees made their way to Keaau High School where the Disaster Relief Center has been set up.

Inside the gymnasium dozens of people sat in the bleachers waiting to tell a FEMA workers who they are, where they lived, and what they lost.

"It's really designed to be a one stop shop for disaster survivors," said David Mace, FEMA spokespesren.

Homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profits are allowed to apply for the federal aid.

Each household is eligible for a maximum of $34,000 in FEMA grants.

"It can pay for a variety of things including the repair or replacement of the destroyed home," Mace added that the funds can pay for rent, replacing lost personal property.

Hawaii News Now spoke to a man named Shawn who was one of the first people in line at the Disaster Recovery Center.

He says his Leilani Estates home is still standing, but the ground beneath it gave way, shifting it from it's foundation.

For more than a month he and his two dogs have been living in a car. He says he's upset more isn't being done in terms of housing.

"It's a very slow process people. Slow. It's almost at a standstill," said Shawn. "People have literally lost their homes, their livlihood, their jobs. They're sleeping in fields. We're homeless. Come on people. Do something."

Hawaii County spokesman Kimo Alameda says he understands the frustration residents are having with the process.

"What we are trying to do is collaborate with FEMA as well as the state agencies to just kind of be on the same page as best we can," said Alameda.

To avoid long lines the county asks residents from certain communities attend on certain days, however it's not mandatory to do so.

Friday was set aside for residents of Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, Alaili Road, and Old Kalapana Highway.

Saturday is initially reserved for residents of Highway 132, Noni Farms Road, Halekamahina Road, Old Kapoho Road, Railroad Avenue, and Pohoiki Road.

Sunday is for applicants from Vacationland, Kapoho, and Green Farm Lots.  People living in Volcano are invited to come Monday.

Residents can also register online at disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 1-800-621-3362.

The disaster center is open daily from 8am-8pm and will remain that way until it's no longer needed.

The agencies will review each case based on the information provided before making decisions on individual assistance.

The following are the guidelines provided by FEMA for the Individuals and Households Assistance Program.

Housing Assistance Temporary Housing:

• Financial Temporary Housing Assistance is provided to homeowners and renters to secure temporary housing while repairs are being made to their pre-disaster primary residence or while they transition to permanent housing. The assistance may be used to rent a house, apartment, manufactured home, recreational vehicle, or other readily-fabricated dwelling.

• Direct Temporary Housing Assistance may only be implemented when eligible applicants cannot make use of financial temporary housing assistance due to a lack of adequate alternate housing. Direct temporary housing assistance must be requested by the impacted State, Tribe, or Territory and approved by FEMA. Once approved, FEMA may provide rental units or manufactured housing units directly to homeowners and renters for temporary use.

Repair: Financial assistance is provided to homeowners' primary residence to repair disaster-related damage not covered by insurance. The assistance is intended to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition. As a condition of accepting disaster assistance, flood insurance may be required if the home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and was damaged by a flood. Items covered for repair include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Foundation and roof

• Windows and doors

• Floors, walls, and ceilings

• Septic or sewage system

• Well or other water system

• Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system

• Electrical, plumbing, and gas systems

• Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads

Replacement: Financial assistance is provided to homeowners to replace a disaster-damaged home. If the home is located in a SFHA and was damaged by a flood, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements as a condition of receiving disaster assistance.

Permanent or Semi-Permanent Housing Construction: Financial or direct assistance may be provided for the construction of a home in insular areas outside the continental United States and other locations in which no alternative housing resources are available, and all other forms of temporary housing assistance are unavailable, infeasible, or not cost-effective. This type of assistance must be requested by the state, tribe, or territory and approved by FEMA. If the home is located in a SFHA and was damaged by a flood, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements and local floodplain management ordinances as a condition of receiving disaster assistance.

Other Needs Assistance (ONA)

Medical/Dental: Financial assistance to pay for disaster-related expenses including, but not limited to, hospital and ambulance services and the replacement or purchase of medication.

Funeral: Financial assistance to pay for expenses incurred for a disaster-related death. Expenses include, but are not limited to, the cost of a casket or urn and funeral services.

Child care: Financial assistance to pay for expenses incurred for disaster-related child care. Expenses include, but are not limited to, child care costs for children ages 13 and under or children ages 14 to 18 with a disability.

Other miscellaneous expenses: Financial assistance to purchase disaster specific items, which may include clean-up items such as a wet/dry vacuum, air purifier, or dehumidifier.

Personal property: Financial assistance to repair or replace common household items including, but not limited to, furnishings and appliances, accessibility items defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specialized tools and protective clothing required by an employer.

Transportation: Financial assistance to repair or replace a vehicle damaged by the disaster and other transportation-related costs.

Moving and storage expenses: Financial assistance to relocate and store personal property from the damaged primary residence while repairs are being made to return the property back to the predisaster residence. In some instances, an applicant may be required to apply for a low interest disaster loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) prior to being considered for certain types of ONA. This applies to personal property assistance, transportation assistance, and moving and storage expenses.

IHP Eligibility Disaster survivors must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible for IHP:

• Disaster losses are in a presidentially declared disaster area;

• A member of the household must be a United States citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien;

• The damaged home is where the applicant lives the majority of the year;

• The damaged home is inaccessible or not livable due to the disaster; and 2 Federal Emergency Management Agency

• The disaster survivor has necessary expenses or serious needs as a result of the disaster that are not covered by insurance or any other source.

Assistance Limit: Financial assistance is limited to an annually adjusted amount based on the Consumer Price Index. Direct assistance is not subject to the assistance limit.

Payment of Assistance: Financial assistance is provided to disaster survivors by a U.S. Treasury check or through an electronic funds transfer into the recipient's bank account.

Supplemental Assistance: IHP is not intended to substitute private recovery efforts but to complement those efforts when needed. FEMA's assistance is limited and is not intended to return a home to its pre-disaster condition. If a homeowner wishes to return their home to its pre-disaster condition, they may apply for a home disaster loan with the SBA.

Proper Use of Assistance: Failure to use assistance appropriately may result in ineligibility for additional assistance, and the applicant may be required to return the misused funds.

Taxation of Assistance: FEMA's assistance is not taxable and is not counted as income or a resource when determining eligibility income assistance or income-tested benefit programs such as Social Security benefits or disability income.

Documentation: Disaster survivors may need to provide documentation to FEMA that is necessary to evaluate their eligibility. Documents pertaining to proof of occupancy, ownership, income loss, and/or information concerning an applicant's housing situation prior to the disaster may be required. Applicants should keep all receipts and records for any housing expenses incurred as a result of the disaster for at least three years. Examples include receipts for repair supplies, labor, and rent payments. Duration of Assistance: Assistance is limited to 18 months following the disaster declaration and may be extended if needed.

Appeal Rights: Applicants, who disagree with FEMA's determination of eligibility or the form of assistance provided, have the right to appeal within 60 days of the date of the notification letter. For more information on appealing, contact the FEMA Disaster Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY can call 1-800-462- 7585 directly. Those using 711 or Video Relay Services (VRS) can call 1-800-621-3362.

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