State Plans to Ask President Bush for Disaster Declaration

(KHNL) The state plans to ask President Bush to issue a disaster declaration, a move that would make Hawaii eligible to receive federal funds to help cope with weeks of constant rains. Heavy rains on Kauai have kept repair crews busy for days. State officials said they have been able to handle the initial response but they are concerned about the aftermath.

"We have a lot of debris that needs to be moved and it is my professional opinion that it is beyond the state's capability to remove and we need some help," said Ed Teixeira, Vice-Director of State Civil Defense.

Officials said that damage combined with flooding on Oahu's North Shore in recent weeks could justify a presidential emergency declaration and federal funds.

"After the heavy rains, how do we recover?" Teixeira said. "How do we get all of that debris from streams on Oahu and Kauai out? What's the best way to get them out, help us pay for some of these costs."

The state is already receiving some federal assistance. For example the federal government is already covering the cost of some highway repairs. Civil defense officials said heavy duty pumps transported by the Air National Guard to Kauai from Hilo will be used in the southern part of the island. Those pumps could later be sent north to help drain the Morita reservoir.

"Our intent was to help pump down the Morita reservoir. However with the recent rains we have a lot of water in the lowlands," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, State Adjutant General.