Flood victims get federal aid as Civil Defense launches clean-up at streams - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Flood victims get federal aid as Civil Defense launches clean-up at streams

David Burgess David Burgess
Ed Texeira Ed Texeira
Rep. Maile Shimabukuro Rep. Maile Shimabukuro

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

WAIANAE (KHNL) - Federal help is on the way for victims of last December's flooding.

FEMA plans to set up disaster recovery centers in the hardest hit areas, to assess the kind of aid it can offer victims.

The federal aid is for residents and business owners who suffered property damage during the Dec. 10-16 storms.

Meanwhile, with the rainy season still in full swing, Civil Defense is trying to break through red tape, to protect victims from a repeat of last month's flooding.

As Lualualei Valley resident David Burgess tries to salvage what's left of his home, he wonders if the heavy rain that caused the Mailiilii Puuhulu stream to overflow could have been prevented.

"Somebody knew about the illegal dumping at the stream and no action was taken," he said.

Civil Defense officials admit government must do a better job of policing illegal dumping, but say Mother Nature is mostly to blame for all the streams that got clogged up with debris and overflowed.

"Even if our streams were pristine before December 11, I will tell you, we will still have flooding because our streams cannot take that capacity," said Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira.

Civil Defense has identified four streams that need immediate clean up. Based on threats to health, safety, and public or private property, Eku Stream comes in at the top of the Civil Defense's priority list.

But the clean-up has red tape attached.

"So many of these streams are privately owned. It makes it very difficult for the Civil Defense and the State to come in there and clear them because they need to get written consent," said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, who represents Waianae.

Shimabukuro plans to introduce a bill to make these waterways public, all in hopes of protecting flood victims from any more losses.

On Tuesday, the National Guard will clear debris, starting at Eku Stream.

The National Guard does not have heavy equipment, so Civil Defense urges anyone who has any, to lend a hand and help clear out large debris such as logs.

As for federal assistance, storm victims must register with FEMA first to apply. For details, click on the link "FEMA Aid for Flood Victims" found on this page.

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