Clock Ticking on Big Island Lava Damages

Aug 6, 2018

View of the fissure 8 cone and spillway from HVO's overflight early this morning, during which geologists observed eruptive activity that was much less vigorous than in past days.
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

If you’re facing damages from the lava flow on the Big Island, the government wants to hear from you. But the clock is ticking. Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration have been on Hawai'i Island since shortly after the lava flow began. But authorities are concerned that not everyone eligible for help has signed up.

Renee Bafalis works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She says the presidential disaster declarations mean FEMA has two major programs for the island.

“We have our public assist program, direct federal assistance on a cost sharing basis for things such as debris removal, emergency protective services, roads and bridges, public buildings, that type of thing. Our individual assistance program provides eligible survivors with grant assistance, for rental assistance, emergency home repairs, uninsured or underinsured personal property losses, medical expenses if you had that as a result of the volcano. “

Garth MacDonald is with the Small Business Administration. He says they help businesses, homeowners, and renters directly with low interest loans.

“One part of our program is for economic injury impact, so business owners in Kailua Kona because of the tourism impact, a lot of the cruise ships didn’t come, people have cancelled, people that have Air BnBs in Volcano, small business owners that have lost business. One thing that SBA offers is low interest loans for economic injury that businesses may be feeling.”

Another view of Isaac Hale Beach Park and the Pohoiki boat ramp from this morning's overflight. The active ocean entry and laze plume can be seen at lower left.
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

Although Bafalis says the deadline to register for help, or re-register if you were rejected, is August 13. Both MacDonald and Bafalis stress the importance for anybody affected by the lava, anywhere on the island, to register with FEMA and the SBA.  The Disaster Recovery Center at Pāhoa Community Center is open from 8 AM to 6 PM weekdays and 8 AM to 4 PM on Saturday. Or you may go to the website at DisasterAssistance.gov