Big Island fears cost of Lane recovery could be in the millions

Big Island fears cost of Lane recovery could be in the millions
Updated: Aug. 27, 2018 at 8:51 PM HST
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HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island officials are still assessing the damage left behind by Lane, but they fear the price tag could be in the millions.

Near-record rains from Lane battered East Hawaii, triggering flooding, landslides and forcing highway closures.

Hawaii County says 170 residents and businesses reported damage so far.

Some areas of Hilo Bayfront are starting to dry out, but others are still soaked.

"It's pretty heartbreaking to see what's happening there what's happening to their homes. It's just an unsettling situation, financially, emotionally. It's really tough," said County Councilman Aaron Chung.

Added Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy: "We've had first responders for the past three months addressing the lava and now this and my general concern right now is for those families. We need a break."

County Managing Director Wil Okabe said the cost to clean up the mess will likely be added on top of the $650 million the county plans to ask the state Legislature for to tackle lava recovery. Eruptions that started in May and that haven't technically ended decimated whole communities and destroyed more than 700 homes.

"We are going to have to ask for more financial assistance whether it's from the state or from the federal government," Okabe said. "It's definitely going to be a challenge to go through the assessment process to really get a handle of the cost."

Lee Loy, meanwhile, called the potential financial impacts "alarming."

As the county and state grapple with the mounting costs, Hawaii's congressional delegation is urging FEMA to continue to its support.

Hawaii County has set up a hotline for residents and businesses to call to make a damage assessment: 808-643-5555.

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