UH team gets hefty financial boost in developing long-term disaster recovery plans

Devastation on Kauai and Oahu led to the 3-year project.

Funding for Hawaii's disaster response plan

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Natural disasters have buffeted Hawaii this year, from historic flooding and destructive lava to hurricane threats.

The state is now investing $3 million in a project triggered by April’s costly flash floods on Kauai and Oahu. The University of Hawaii’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center recently received the grant. The funding came from the $125 million set aside by lawmakers for flood recovery efforts on those two islands.

Record rainfall overwhelmed the Garden Isle seven months ago, setting off flash flooding and mudslides. The water wrecked many homes, leaving residents struggling to rebuild. Neighborhoods on Oahu were also inundated, adding to the damage estimates.

UH researchers are now compiling reports and identifying what has been done by different agencies. They’re assessing quick fixes and mitigation measures, but they’re primarily interested in long-term recovery and planning.

“How can we plan and design the communities so that they are much more resilient and able to withstand storms and other events into the future?” said executive director Karl Kim.

$1 million of the grant will stay with the training center for research.

“The remainder will be used to hire specialists - hydrologists, engineers, environmental scientists - that can help us to understand the longer term needs,” Kim explained.

Kim said the project is a complicated but important challenge since it’s impossible to predict when the next disaster will strike.

“We know that this will happen again, maybe not with the same intensity in the same location, but certainly there’s the potential for this occurring in other parts, and there are other hazards that we’re exposed to as well,” he said.

Researchers will provide periodic updates to Governor David Ige and the legislature. The team will also produce a final report at the end of the 3-year project.

Copyright 2018 HawaiiNewsNow. All rights reserved.