HANALEI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - People whose homes were damaged or destroyed in April's historic flooding disaster will now be able to receive federal help.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved Hawaii's request for individual assistance for damages from historic flooding on Kauai and Oahu.
The federal funds are intended to provide affected residents with critical resources to help recover from damages sustained during the storm.
FEMA initially denied the state's request in May, saying the number of homes that had been damaged by floods was about 60 below the minimum threshold for individual assistance. The unofficial minimum requirement for individual assistance is 175 homes.
But Gov. David Ige signed a new request in mid-June, asking FEMA officials to reconsider.
"Emergency workers on Kauai and Oahu never gave up and worked tirelessly with community members to ensure that damage from the storms was documented," Ige said.
The updated information found that at least 760 homes were affected by torrential storms and flooding on Kauai and Oahu between April 13 and 16, including 187 that were "destroyed" or "suffered major damage."
"FEMA has been a great partner throughout the recovery process, and we thank the administration for approving this request," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, in a news release. "The communities on Kauai and Oahu are still rebuilding, and these new resources will be helpful in that effort. This decision also means that FEMA will open Disaster Recovery Centers on both islands so that people will have direct access to resources."
Residents who are still recovering say they're happy for any additional help.
"It's a very expensive process going through this whole thing, and at some point in time, we're going to have to rebuild our our home back to the way we knew it," said Aina Haina resident Shauna Tuohy.
"We still have some homes on our list to clean up, so every dollar helps. Even if they do have insurance. insurance isn't going to cover everything," said Danny Tengan, volunteer coordinator with Aina Haina Prepared.
FEMA officials say disaster recovery centers will open on Kauai and Oahu Friday morning.
They say after residents sign up, an inspector will be sent to homes to assess the damage.
"The maximum grant, if your home was totally destroyed and uninsured, is $34,000. (Inspectors) are going to be asking for receipts, or photos, or something to show what it looked like before and what you've done to repair," said Dolph Diemont, federal coordinating officer for FEMA.
Diemont says services like unemployment assistance and crisis counseling will also be offered through the program.
Residents can register with FEMA by phone, online, or in person at one of the disaster recovery centers.
State and county leaders say they've learned a lot through this process, and will remember these lessons for the next big disaster.
"Work with community people and neighborhood watch groups that know their neighbors, and get us to where the damage is to count more aggressively and more accurately," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.