FEMA Private Sector Updates 2023 - 2024

FEMA provides ongoing updates to the Maui private sector since the end of August 2023. As the most recent FEMA documents are received, they will be uploaded here for MHLA Members.  

2.23.24 Recovery Update Maui Wildfires

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2.23.24 FEMA Hosts Industry Day for Modular Home Vendors on Feb. 28th

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2.15.24 FEMA, SBA Recovery Centers, Loan Center Closed on Presidents’ Day

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2.15.24 FEMA Direct Lease Program Says No to Rental Properties That Illegally Kick Out Tenants

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2.13.24 Doing Business with FEMA Slideshow

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2.12.24 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 18

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2.9.24 Recovery Update Maui Wildfires -FEMA Private Sector

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2.7.24 Federal State and Community Efforts Drive Kula Recovery

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2.7.24 Maui Wildfires By the Number

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2.7.24 FEMA and Partners Rally Massive Effort to Help Lahaina Rebound and Wildfire Survivors Heal

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1.30.24 Question and Answers About Direct Housing on Maui - FEMA Private Sector

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1.29.24 Vol 1 Issue 16

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1.26.24 Maui Wildfires Recovery Update - FEMA Private Sector

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1.25.24 Right of Entry - FEMA Private Sector

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1.22.24 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 15

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1.8.24 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 13

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12.20.23 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 12

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12.18.23 SBA to Open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center Dec. 19 in Kahului

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12.18.23 Frequently Asked Questions About FEMA’s Direct Lease Program

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12.12.23 Kahului Disaster Recovery Center - FEMA

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12.12.23 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 11

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12.12.23 Maui Purposity Holiday Flyer

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12.7.23 Recover Update Maui Wildfires

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12.7.23 IRC Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 10

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12.7.23 Owners of Short Term Rental Properties: Rental Properties Wanted

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12.7.23 Owners of Short-Term Rental Properties Invited to FEMA Direct Lease Industry Day

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12.2.23 Tongan Resource Fair

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11.30.23 Stay in Touch with FEMA to Help Keep Your Recovery on Track

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11.29.23 Kahului Disaster Recovery Center Closed Nov. 29

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11.27.23 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 9

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11.24.23 Recovery Update Maui Wildfires - FEMA Private Sector

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11.17.23 Wildfire Updates - FEMA

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Support is Available for Wildfire Survivors Facing Domestic Violence

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11.16.23 How to Appeal FEMAʻs Decision

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11.16.23 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 7

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11.6.23 IRC Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 6

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11.3.23 Helping Children Cope After the Wildfire

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11.3.23 Recovery Update Maui Wildfires - FEMA Private Sector

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10.31.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.30.23 IRC FEMA Newsletter Vol 1 Issue 5

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10.30.23 Learn about Repair and Rebuilding through 11.11.23

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10.31.23 Upcountry Maui Disaster Recovery Center Closed

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10.13.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.13.23 Survivors Re-Enter Lahaina, Banyan Tree Updates - FEMA

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10.12.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.11.23 FEMA Daily Fact Sheet - Hawaii Wildfires

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10.11.23 FEMA Job Fair Planned for Oct. 11 in Lahaina

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10.10.23 FEMA Daily Fact Sheet - Hawaii Wildfires

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10.9.23 FEMA Daily Fact Sheet - Hawaii Wildfires

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10.6.23 Weekly Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.6.23 Learn about repair and rebuilding Oct. 9 - 21

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10.5.23 Request for American Sign Language Interpretation

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10.5.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.4.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.4.23 IRC Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 1

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10.4.23 SBA Registration Extended to November 9th, 2023

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10.3.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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10.1.23 Disaster Recovery Centers Change Hours/Days

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9.30.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.30.23 Nonprofits may be eligible for Disaster Assistance

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9.29.23 FEMA Assistance Includes Funeral Expenses

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9.29.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.29.23 FEMA Job Fairs

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9.28.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.27.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.25.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.25.23 Rental Properties Wanted for Temporary Disaster Housing

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9.22.23 Weekly Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.22.23 Rebuilding Advice - FEMA Private

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9.21.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.19.23 FEMA Job Fairs

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9.19.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.15.23 Continued Rental Assistance for Maui Wildfire Survivors

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9.15.23 Federal Assistance for Maui Survivors Tops $103 Million

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9.13.23 County of Maui Disaster Area Restrictions lifted for BUSINESS ZONES 5B, 5E

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9.12.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.12.23 Notice: Amended Unsafe Water Advisory for Upper Kula

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9.12.23 County of Maui News Release DNA Testing

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9.11.23 County of Maui News Release Disaster Update

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9.9.23 Maui County Re-Entering Plans

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9.9.23 Maui County Debris Removal Information Page

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9.9.23 Private Property Debris Removal for Hawaii Wildfires

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9.13.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.7.23 Family Assistance Center Transitioning, Moving to Lahaina Civic Center

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9.6.23 Fema is Hiring - FEMA Private Sector

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9.6.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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9.6.23 Understanding FEMA News Release - FEMA Private Sector

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8.31.23 Daily Fact Sheet - FEMA Private Sector

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FEMA Assistance General Flyer in Tagalog

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FEMA Assistance General Flyer in Spanish

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FEMA Assistance General Flyer in IIocano

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FEMA Assistance General Flyer

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REGION 9 NEWS SUMMARY & CLIPS­­­­

THURSDAY, FEB. 29, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Central Maui property chosen as dump site for Lahaina fire debris
Honolulu Civil Beat, Cammy Clark
The Honolulu Civil Beat reports a permanent dump site has been selected for the non-recyclable debris that is being cleared from the five-mile burn zone in Lahaina. The site was chosen because it is a safe distance from the ocean, homes, schools and hospitals. Once the permanent site is designed and built, which will take about a year, all debris and ash staged temporarily in Olowalu will be transferred there.

The article says FEMA will reimburse the county for most if not all the transportation cost from the temporary to the permanent dump site, as well as the weight-based “tipping fees” in Central Maui, but the county is on the hook for the cost of constructing the $40 million permanent site. Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said he hopes the county can quickly get the site up and running so that some of the fire debris does not need to be brought to the temporary site at all.

Temporary Kamehameha III Elementary School campus transferred to DOE, set to open April 1
Maui Now, Wendy Osher
The US Army Corps of Engineers announced on Tuesday the successful installation and turnover of the newly constructed temporary campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary School students to the Hawai‘i State Department of Education.

USACE reports the temporary school comprises 336 modular units across 38 buildings, including classrooms, restrooms, a dining room, community space, administrative offices and learning resources areas. With the key handover, the DOE will proceed with furnishing and installing telecommunication equipment before opening the school in the fourth school quarter on April 1, 2024.

TUESDAY, FEB. 27, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Converting Maui vacation rentals to longer-term housing causing frustration for owners
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Dan Nakaso
Gov. Josh Green had threatened to ban short-term rentals if owners of 3, 000 Maui vacation rentals did not provide stable housing by Friday. A part-time Maui couple's decision to convert their vacation rentals into longer-term housing for Maui fire survivors followed weeks of frustration, cancellations by repeat loyal visitors over whether they are welcome on the Valley Isle and the threat by Gov. Josh Green to shut down Maui's short-term rental market.

FEMA

Will there be a government shutdown? Congress is running out of time to strike a deal
USA Today, Riley Beggin
USA Today reports Congress has until Friday to reach a spending agreement, or the nation will face a partial government shutdown. The article notes a shutdown means all officials and federal agencies that aren't deemed “essential” have to stop their work and close their doors. If the government does shut down, thousands of federal employees would be furloughed. CNN reports federal agencies have already begun taking steps to prepare for a potential shutdown. An additional set of government agencies and programs are funded through March 8, including DHS.

In New Hampshire, WMUR News 9 reports Rep. Chris Pappas says he’s concerned about what this could mean for damage assessment applications in New Hampshire, specifically in the seacoast region of the state where recent storms battered coastal communities. “All the important work that federal agencies do, including at FEMA, could be disrupted if the government shuts down in March,” Pappas said. Pappas added that the state has made a request for aid following those storms and continues to urge the Biden administration to approve it.

THURSDAY, FEB. 26, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green speaks on Lahaina recovery efforts, 6 months after the tragedy, while visiting D.C.

Spectrum News, Michael Tsai
Spectrum News reports Hawaii Gov. Josh Green governor praised the support the state has received from the Biden administration and FEMA during an interview while attending the National Governors Association winter meeting this weekend. Green said the state’s focus over the next six months will be to continue moving those displaced by the August 2023 wildfires into more permanent housing.

The Honolulu Civil Beat reports Maui has become a popular stop for federal dignitaries since the Lahaina Wildfire. The article says five Cabinet members, the speaker of the House, the head of FEMA and the assistant secretary of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — have made the long trip to the middle of the Pacific to see the devastation for themselves, hear the harrowing stories of survivors and pledge federal support. The administration “has sent out their leadership and their expertise and their money,” U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said in an interview Saturday. “And the Cabinet, at the direction of President Biden, has been asked to fly to Maui, to be in regular contact on the phone, and to try to be maximally helpful.” President Joe Biden, the first sitting president to make an official visit to Maui, told a large crowd of survivors in August at the Lahaina Civic Center: “The entire country is here for you.”

Converting Maui vacation rentals to longer-term housing causing frustration for owners
Honolulu Star Advertiser, Dan Nakaso
A part-time Maui couple’s decision to convert their vacation rentals into longer-term housing for Maui fire survivors followed weeks of frustration, cancellations by repeat loyal visitors over whether they are welcome on the Valley Isle and the threat by Gov. Josh Green to shut down Maui’s short-term rental market.

Hawaii State And County Officials Seeking $1B From Legislature for Maui Recovery
Insurance Journal
Hawaii state and county officials have requested about $1 billion from the Legislature to help cover Maui wildfire recovery expenses in the near term.

Gov. Josh Green’s administration had budgeted $199 million for such expenses but are now expecting they may need $561 million under a “worst-case” scenario, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

THURSDAY, FEB. 22, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Tiny homes meant for displaced Maui fire survivors are sitting empty
The Washington Post, Reis Thebault
A paywalled Washington Post story reports thousands of West Maui families have been living in American Red Cross shelters at local hotels since the Lahaina wildfire. The article looks at one family that has been shuffled between facilities seven times as the resorts make space for the slow return of tourists to the island and their plight to move into a promised tiny home community for the next two years.

The article says a project to provide 88 tiny homes, overseen by a local social services organization called Family Life Center, has been tangled in red tape. The article highlights the often-maddening world of building affordable housing on Maui, where a notoriously long permitting process and a thicket of regulations has stalled projects for decades. The first units arrived on the island within weeks of the August fire, and the center hoped families would be able to move in by October, but they still sit empty as some 4,700 people in hotels desperately wait for more permanent housing.

The article goes on to say the project initially received international attention, but soon after the spotlight faded, the project became a poster child for postponement. Both families and officials are concerned because the hotel program will end in April if not extended and funding for the vacation rentals, which comes largely from FEMA, will be phased out over the next two years. “The only way we’ll have any place for these people to go is if we have these ADUs built,” said one local official. “We’re going to need to build a lot of new ones — like thousands of new ones.”

Hawaii Public Radio also published a story on housing overnight noting state lawmakers are concerned there may not be enough housing in place to shelter displaced Lahaina residents by the time FEMA leaves next February. If residents aren’t re-housed by the time FEMA leaves, the state may need to pay ongoing shelter costs of more than $1 million a day, which is currently not in the state budget.

WEDNESDAY, FEB 21, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Will An RV Be Better Than The ‘Chaos’ Of A Hotel Room?
Honolulu Civil Beat, Brittany Lyte
In Hawaii, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports Lahaina fire survivors are taking a risk by moving ahead with a creative temporary housing solution that they view as an upgrade from FEMA's hotel rooms. The article follows one couple who are buying a trailer from the mainland to give them a more self-sufficient housing option than the FEMA paid hotel room they have been staying in since the fire. Mario Siatris is waiting on the trailer be bought with some of his insurance money and says while he’s grateful for the hotel stay, he doesn’t want to rely on FEMA any longer. “It’s chaos,” he says. “I just want to get back to the land, back home.” Siatris is not eligible for long-term housing through FEMA’s direct-lease program until his home insurance payouts are used up.

Maui Makes A Big Ask As Rising Wildfire Recovery Costs Prompt Talk Of State Budget Cuts
Honolulu Civil Beat, Kevin Dayton
Mayor Richard Bissen made a new appeal to a key Senate committee on Tuesday for $401 million over three years to develop desperately needed housing on Maui as state lawmakers struggled to come to grips with wildly escalating recovery costs from the deadly Aug. 8 Lahaina wildfire. Luis Salaveria, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, confirmed the fire recovery costs for this year alone are expected to top $600 million, which is the amount Gov. Josh Green’s administration originally budgeted for the recovery effort over four years. Those rising costs have prompted the Senate to ask Salaveria to develop contingency plans for imposing state spending cuts of 10% and 15%, and senators suggested that state grant-in-aid funding for nonprofit organizations may also be dramatically reduced. The state has been incurring about $1 million per day in costs to shelter Maui fire survivors — including many who remain in West Maui hotels — and it appears the state may not get as much federal reimbursement as the state anticipated, according to the memo. State officials knew they would need to cover much of the cost of temporary housing for fire survivors up front, but the Green administration expected some 90% of that cost would be reimbursed by FEMA. In fact, lawmakers report that FEMA has been rejecting large numbers of claims for reimbursement. State and federal obligations for federal operations support and direct federal assistance are at about $1.2 billion so far, and the state’s share of that thus far is $114 million.

‘We need your help’: Maui mayor, state seek nearly $1B for wildfire recovery from legislators (video)
Hawaii News Now, Daryl Huff
The Maui fire disaster is also becoming a crisis for the state budget, as many early estimates of what state taxpayers will cover are proving too optimistic. Maui’s mayor and the state administration came in with budget requests Tuesday, adding up to nearly a billion dollars. It means that the reality of the cost of the Maui wildfire disaster is now sinking in at the capitol, leaders say, potentially dashing hopes for things like more mental health and social services, higher public worker salaries for shortage positions, and even middle-class tax reform. Maui Mayor Richard Bissen made a somber appearance Tuesday before the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, saying he was speaking for traumatized survivors of the fires.

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 14, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

$15,000 hotel bill for Maui evacuee sparks call for new housing solutions

Hawaii News Now, Mahealani Richardson
Hawaii News Now offered a lens into the costs and inefficiencies incurred in the provision of temporary housing for Lahaina wildfire survivors, as the hotel bill for a single survivor was reported to be $15,000 per month. FEMA responded to concerns about the costs and challenges following the wildfire, noting, “FEMA is working closely with the American Red Cross and the state to move wildfire survivors from hotels on Maui and O’ahu into more suitable housing. The hotel sheltering program is providing housing until Wednesday, April 10,” with Administrator Criswell underlining FEMA’s commitment to the survivors, adding, “We will continue to support you in this recovery for as long as it takes.”

Person on MPD's 'missing/unaccounted for' list identified as 101st Lahaina fire victim
Island News, Matthew Nuttle
Authorities on Maui have identified another person confirmed to have died in the Lahaina fire disaster – raising the official death toll to 101. The latest fire victim is identified as 76-year-old Paul Kasprzycki of Lahaina. Kasprzycki was one of the three people whose names remained on the Maui Police Department’s “credible list of missing/unaccounted for individuals.” As of Feb. 13, 2024, all 101-known fire victims have been identified. Two individuals remain on the missing/unaccounted for list. Those two have been identified as Robert H. Owens and Elmer Lee Stevens. Meanwhile, as more and more lots are cleared in Lahaina, many people are thinking about the next phase: Rebuilding. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs wants to make sure everyone understands the importance of using licensed contractors for any job costing more than $1,500.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2024

EARTHQUAKES

United States: Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake Strikes Hawaii; No Major Damage Reported
Thai News Service
A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck the world's largest active volcano on Friday - Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii - knocking items off shelves and cutting power in a nearby town but not immediately prompting reports of serious damage.

The earthquake, which didn't cause a tsunami and which the U.S. Geological Survey initially reported as magnitude 6.3, was centered on Mauna Loa's southern flank at a depth of 37 kilometers, 2 kilometers southwest of Pahala.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

6 months after wildfires, FEMA administrator praises survivors for ‘resolve’
Hawaii News Now
Limited media coverage continued over the weekend on FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell’s visit to Hawaii last week to check on Lahaina recovery efforts. Hawaii News Now reports Criswell said FEMA’s consideration of community throughout the recovery process should act as a model for future operations noting, “The federal government, the entire federal family is going to be here with you through the end of your recovery.” The article says FEMA has secured nearly 1,500 leased properties for survivors and more than 160 households have moved into temporary housing through FEMA’s Direct Lease program. Some residents say some landlords are not renewing their current tenants’ leases because they can get more money from FEMA for housing fire survivors. Any landlord who is not renewing their tenants’ leases to receive more federal funding will be disqualified from the program and reported to the state Attorney General.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Public Radio reports some multigenerational Lahaina families have not yet found long-term housing. The article features the Faʻalogo family who were first placed in a Wailea hotel and are now at the Royal Lahaina Resort, which is only housing fire survivors. The Faʻalogo’s said the Royal Lahaina has been accommodating and helpful, but it's not easy to live in a hotel, "We don't have a kitchen, we don't have a living room. It's just a standard hotel room. And six months has been a while and we know we have a long road ahead of us, and we know it's gonna be longer.” HPR asked FEMA about situations to accommodate multigenerational families. Region 9 Administrator Bob Fenton said that, so far, the largest home they have been able to place a family in was a 7-bedroom unit. "My parents or my grandma, it's hard explaining to them what's happening or how to deal with Red Cross, or how to deal with FEMA, because there are terms that they use or words that we can't translate into our language," Faʻalogo said. He went on to say the family is grateful for all the help and donations.

The Hawaii Free Press reports Fenton set a goal of moving 1,500 fire survivors out of hotels and into better temporary housing. So far, Fenton said FEMA’s Direct Lease program has moved over 160 households into temporary housing and found 1,500 leased properties for survivors.

Hawaii Governor: There’s Still ‘A Ton More Work To Do’ In Maui’s Fire Recovery
Honolulu Civil Beat, Brittany Lyte

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green was joined by Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, and other government agencies during a joint press conference held Thursday six months after the August 2023 Lahaina wildfire. The Honolulu Civil Beat and Big Island Now report the leaders highlighted progress made over the past six months, current efforts, and the path forward for Maui’s recovery to include the money spent, the debris removed, the people housed, and the meals served. The article says more than $1.2 billion has been made available so far for federal agencies to spend on Maui’s recovery.

There are 4,961 fire survivors still being housed in FEMA-funded hotel rooms and vacation rentals, a number that peaked at nearly 8,000 right after the fire. The article says they continue to deal with ever-changing deadlines to vacate as government officials work on longer term solutions. FEMA has filled only 160 of the 1,415 residential units that it’s secured to shift displaced families out of hotel rooms and into neighborhoods. Nearly 1,400 families have applied for one of these long-term rentals, 40 percent of which are located outside of Lahaina.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said the lag in ushering applicants is partly an issue of matching displaced families with homes close to jobs and family. Some families lost vehicles in the fire, further complicating the prospects of long commutes to work. Other families simply don’t want to move away from the island’s west side.

NBC News reports families whose loved ones died in the Maui wildfires could get $1.5 million each, but they must agree not to sue the state agencies and companies that are contributing to a victims' compensation fund. Gov. Green first announced a victims’ compensation fund in November, saying it would exceed $150 million. The fund, which will be open to applicants March 1, now stands at $175 million, he said on Thursday.

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!

What is Lunar New Year and how is it celebrated?
AP, Deepa Bharath
On Feb. 10, Asian American communities around the U.S. will ring in the Year of the Dragon with community carnivals, family gatherings, parades, traditional food, fireworks and other festivities. In many Asian countries, it is a festival that is celebrated for several days. In diaspora communities, particularly in cultural enclaves, Lunar New Year is visibly and joyfully celebrated.

In the Chinese zodiac, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Different countries across Asia celebrate the new year in many ways and may follow a different zodiac.

Enter the Year of the Dragon: A 2024 guide to Lunar New Year

CNN, Text by Maggie Hiufu Wong, illustrations by Natalie Leung

At this very moment, millions of people around the world are busy preparing for one of the year’s biggest festivals – Lunar New Year, which marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar. This year, it falls on February 10, kicking off the 15-day Spring Festival.

The 15 Days of Lunar New Year & What They Mean

New York Public Library, Shirley Wong-Li

Lunar New Year (農曆新年) marks the first day of the year in the lunar calendar. The celebration generally runs for 15 days, with each day having special meaning and traditions to honor. The days' significance and customs vary between regions and beliefs. Many of the meanings also come from legends and folktales passed down from generation to generation. Among the many myths, there is one about Nüwa (女媧), the goddess who created the world. It is believed that she spent the first six days creating animals, the seventh-day creating humans, and the eighth day creating grains. Hence each day of the new year is considered to be the birthday of her creations. Then some folktales talk about the God of Wealth (財神) bringing good fortunes to people, about the God of Kitchen (灶神) watching households, and many more. No matter how different the meanings and traditions are, Lunar New Year is when people spend time with families and friends to celebrate traditions and make wishes for a good year to come.

In 2024, the Lunar Year, Year of the Dragon, begins on February 10 and celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 25.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2024

Hawaiian Electric focuses on wildfire safety in $190M grid plan
Power Grid, Sean Wolfe
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved Hawaiian Electric’s $190 million Climate Adaptation Transmission and Distribution Resilience Program application, which the utility says is meant to help defend against the increasing threat of wildfires and harden its five island electric grids against severe weather-related events fueled by climate change.

The decision enables Hawaiian Electric to move forward with $95 million in funding granted under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) by matching it with $95 million to come from customers. By applying for and receiving the grant, Hawaiian Electric says it reduced the cost to customers by half. The estimated impact on a typical monthly bill for a residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours will be $0.17 on Oahu, $0.47 on Hawaii Island, and $0.39 in Maui County.

FEMA and Partners Rally Massive Effort to Help Lahaina Rebound and Wildfire Survivors Heal
Targeted News Service

FEMA, in response to the wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, has played a pivotal role in facilitating the recovery efforts. They swiftly provided assistance to survivors, including financial aid, shelter, and resources for basic needs. FEMA coordinated with other federal agencies to address critical infrastructure and housing challenges, exemplified by the construction of a temporary school and negotiating leases for temporary housing units. They also oversaw the removal of hazardous materials and debris, ensuring public safety and environmental protection. Collaborating with cultural experts, FEMA respected local customs and integrated them into the cleanup process. FEMA's Disaster Survivor Assistance teams and Recovery Centers on Maui facilitated access to resources and applications for federal assistance. Additionally, FEMA initiated programs like Rental Assistance and Direct Lease to support survivors in transitioning to longer-term housing solutions. These efforts reflect FEMA's commitment to aiding individuals and communities in times of crisis and facilitating their journey toward recovery and stability.

High school football gave hope after deadly Maui wildfire. Some players will be at the Super Bowl

The Maui News
Teva Loft, a high school football player from Lahainaluna High School in Hawaii, who, along with three other team captains and three coaches, has been invited to attend Super Bowl LVIII as guests of the NFL. This invitation comes after their town was devastated by a deadly wildfire in August. Despite never having been to Las Vegas or watched an NFL game in person, they will serve as honorary coin toss captains at the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. The article highlights the significance of football in Lahainaluna and the resilience of its community in the face of tragedy. Loft and his teammates received the news of their Super Bowl invitation during a Zoom call with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is also from Hawaii. The NFL recognizes the Lahainaluna football team's role in bringing their community together amidst adversity and honors them for their efforts in rebuilding. Additionally, the article mentions the positive developments for one of the players, Morgan "Bula" Montgomery, whose family found long-term housing through FEMA after being displaced by the fire.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

FEMA is developing a ‘last resort’ plan to house Maui fire survivors in Kaanapali
Honolulu Civil Beat, Cammy Clark
In Hawaii, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports FEMA is looking at land near Lahaina to construct a temporary modular housing site for wildfire survivors. FEMA has submitted a draft Environmental Assessment of a 63-acres parcel of land called Kaanapali Town and the public has until Friday to weigh in on the plan to install 214 temporary homes. The group housing project won’t be necessary if FEMA can secure enough direct leases for all eligible households. But the agency is moving forward with the review to get it rolling just in case. FEMA’s Victor Inge says, “This is the absolute last resort. But when we go into a community where there’s been devastation, all the options are on the table.” Out of 25 evaluated properties around the island, the Kaanapali location was the top choice of FEMA, which “worked closely with state and county officials” and is only three miles from Lahaina.

Inge said FEMA is focusing on the more than 1,068 eligible households willing to participate in its direct lease program with secured units from property owners of second homes, vacation rentals and other rental units. About 750 of these eligible households are currently living in hotels. State Sen. Angus McKelvey, who represents West Maui, said he hopes the temporary group housing project does move forward, but with “dignified” modular homes — not “the next generation of trailers.” McKelvey went on to say, “This is about keeping the community intact. It’s one of the locations that is suitable to do this.”

Some Maui residents fear programs aimed to house fire survivors could make other families homeless
Hawaii News Now, Chelsea Davis
Hawaii News Now reports some West Maui families say they fear even more people may end up homeless as an unintentional consequence of FEMA’s Direct Lease program designed to house fire evacuees. The article says some landlords are not renewing their tenants’ leases because they can get more money from the government housing fire survivors. The FEMA program pays landlords up to 175-percent of Fair Market Rent to house a fire survivor, which means they could get almost twice as much as they are getting now. FEMA’s Fredia Kelly said, “We have advised our Property Managers that if they believe property owners are giving their tenants notice just to house a survivor, FEMA will not accept their property into Direct Lease and that the tenant may report them to the Attorney General.”

Anxiety Sets In For Family Displaced By Lahaina Fire As Moving Day Looms
Honolulu Civil Beat, Brittany Lyte
In recent weeks a gnawing feeling of uncertainty has intensified for Randy and Marilou as more upheaval to their living situation approaches. The family’s time at the FEMA-funded condo where they’ve lived since late October after being displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfire in Lahaina is up at the end of this month. Federal officials have vowed to find the Dadezes new accommodations, but, with the move just days away, the family is still in the dark on exactly where they’ll go to next. All they know is what Randy said FEMA officials told him: his family will be relocated to a five-bedroom house somewhere in Lahaina, on or around Wednesday. Randy said he was told that his family would be able to stay in the house until February of next year. On one hand, the prospect of moving into a house instead of a hotel room is a big step toward normalcy for a family that’s lived in a church and three different resorts in the five months since the deadly fire ripped apart their lives. The lack of details, however, is anxiety-inducing.

Temporary campus opening for King Kamehameha III Elementary pushed back
Star Advertiser, Esme M. Infante
Students displaced from King Kamehameha III Elementary School, which was ravaged by the Lahaina wildfire in August, will now have to wait until April to occupy a new temporary campus being built for them in Pulelehua, according to the latest timeline from state school officials. The opening of the temporary campus being built in Pulelehua in West Maui, near the Kapalua Airport, has been pushed further back — and closer to the May 30 end of the state Department of Education school year — than at least some observers initially believed it would be. In late February, the site is expected to be handed over to the Hawaii DOE. The Army Corps of Engineers is designing and overseeing the installation; Aina Pono, a Native Hawaiian organization based in Waianae on Oahu, was awarded a $53.7 million contract by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for construction. Starting in the April 1 week, students and employees will be at the Pulelehua campus, where they are expected to finish the school year with quarter four. But complicating the DOE’s planning for quarter four and next school year has been some difficulty in discerning how many families plan to send their students to the Pulelehua campus, which is about 6 miles away from their original school in Lahaina town. Meanwhile, “health and safety remain top of mind in West Maui” in response to community concerns about the second phase of debris removal in Lahaina’s burn zone, just below the town’s three remaining operating public schools.

Insurance companies are going after Hawaiian Electric to reimburse Lahaina fire claims
Grist, Stewart Yerton (Honolulu Civil Beat)
More than 140 insurance industry plaintiffs have joined the cascade of lawsuits filed against utilities and landowners related to the Maui wildfires, a move that could set up a battle over resources available to pay victims of the disaster that killed 100 people and destroyed much of Lahaina in August.

The global insurance industry has swept into Honolulu state court, seeking to collect reimbursements for claims paid to policyholders. Those total more than $1 billion in West Maui for residential property alone, according to the latest data from the Insurance Division of the Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The plaintiffs include names familiar to Hawaiʻi homeowners: insurers like State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., USAA Casualty Insurance Co., Island Insurance and Tradewind Insurance.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Maui County announces additional zones for safe water usage in Lahaina
Hawaiʻi Public Radio
The Unsafe Water Advisory for another portion of Lahaina has been removed. The Department of Water Supply stated buildings and homes in area L-4D now have unrestricted use. The zone is bordered by Honoapi‘ilani Highway, Kahoma Stream, Front Street and Kenui Street. Officials say water may have stagnated in plumbing while advisories were in effect. Customers should flush their lines by opening all taps running water for 10 minutes to remove any standing water in pipes.

Broadbent & Associates Inc. Completes Assignment for Support on Maui Fires Emergency Response Efforts
Nevada Business
Broadbent & Associates, Inc. (Broadbent), a leading environmental, water resource, and civil engineering firm, completes assistance to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 9, Emergency Response Section (ERS) in their response and recovery efforts to the devastating Maui fires in Maui, Hawai’i. Broadbent assisted in two primary ways: using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to map impacted fire zones, and assisting with surveying, removing, and disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW) and asbestos containing material (ACM).

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Maui Wildfire Cleanup Advances to Debris Removal Phase
ENRCalifornia, James Leggate
Contractors hauled the first truckload of debris from homes destroyed by last year’s wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Jan. 16. The move marked the beginning of the second phase of debris removal efforts coordinated by federal, state and local officials. The fires on Maui last August, driven by dry conditions and high winds, killed at least 100 people and did $5.5 billion in damage to thousands of structures. Thousands of residents remain displaced. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has said debris removal may take a year and estimated its cost at $1 billion. Other wildfire recovery efforts are also still underway. In November, USACE awarded a $53.7-million base contract to Pono Aina Management LLC of Waianae, Hawaii, for construction of a temporary elementary school campus in Lahaina for children whose school was destroyed in the fire. That project is scheduled for completion by the end of February. More temporary housing is also needed for displaced residents. In his “state of the state” address Jan. 22, Green said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing 17,000 survivors with rental assistance into 2025, and the American Red Cross is helping house more than 5,000 more in 30 hotels across Maui. USACE is currently working on the design for hundreds of temporary housing units at three sites. Jeff McCullick, USACE’s mission manager for temporary housing, said in a statement that officials could award a contract for construction at the first site as soon as February.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Hawaii’s governor hails support for Maui and targets vacation rentals and housing shortage
AP, Audrey McAvoy
A widely distributed AP article reports Hawaii Gov. Josh Green used his annual State of the State address Monday to propose aggressive steps to shift more vacation rentals into residential use to meet both Maui and the state’s acute housing needs. The most urgent unmet need on Maui is now stable long-term housing for some 5,000 residents who are staying in hotel rooms. Green wants all 5,000 to move into long-term housing by March 1 and says the state has locked in about two-thirds of the needed housing. The article says FEMA and charitable organizations will be covering the rental costs.

Maui County to Open a Special Permitting Office to Help Lahaina Rebuild
Honolulu Civil Beat, Kevin Dayton
Lahaina will get a special office to expedite building permits for an estimated 1,200 properties that were damaged or destroyed in the Aug. 8 wildfire, and an outside contractor will be hired to help staff the operation, Maui officials said Monday. Mayor Richard Bissen said 5,368 fire survivors are still living in 32 hotels, and Maui County is pushing forward with an aggressive plan to replace the lost housing in a partnership with private, state and federal agencies. “I humbly stand before you today to express my plea for the prioritization of the care for our survivors, and ask that we stand in unity until every survivor has a place to call home,” the Maui mayor said during a briefing before the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Bissen said the county is expecting $1 billion in support under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program, of which the local government share would be $95 million to $100 million. Maui County is asking the state to support the county by picking up 75% of that cost. Maui County Managing Director Josiah Nishita told lawmakers Monday the county plans to launch the expedited building permitting process for the 2,000 acres that were impacted by the fire. But staffing the new office has been a challenge.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16 - MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2024

MAUI WILDFIRES

Unity walk draws 4,000 to support Lahaina as it steps closer to rebuilding after fire
Honolulu Star Advertiser, Allison Schaefers
A community that proved its mettle throughout the devastating Aug. 8 fire that wiped out historic Lahaina town and left at least 100 confirmed dead took a significant step forward together Saturday during the Ho‘ulu Lahaina Unity Gathering. A light mist was present as the 4.5-mile march wound from Lahaina Bypass Road to Launiupoko Beach Park where the crews of the four voyaging canoes — Hokule‘a, Hikianalia, Makali‘i and Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani — came ashore and were welcomed with culturally significant chanting, dance and ceremony. Some 4,000 people either participated in the walk or witnessed the rare arrival of all four of the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoes and their crews. The arrival of these navigators, including Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO, coincided with an important turning point for the Lahaina community as it moves from recovery to rebuilding. They answered the call to show their support from big wave rider and waterman Archie Kalepa, whose Lele Aloha nonprofit group organized the unity gathering. Kalepa, who was born and raised in Lahaina, is a descendant of nine generations of Native Hawaiians going back to the konohiki, or traditional caretakers of their communities. He served as a captain on at least 12 deep-sea voyaging canoes and retired after 32 years as a Maui lifeguard, lifeguard captain and head of Maui County Ocean Safety. He also is one of five unpaid advisers to Mayor Richard Bissen to figure out how best to help the multiple, diverse needs of fire survivors, including the thousands of families still living in hotels who hope to eventually relocate into more comfortable, long-term housing.

SBA extends fire relief deadline for those thought to be ineligible
Honolulu Star Advertiser, Allison Schaefers
The U.S. Small Business Administration has distributed more than $257.3 million in disaster loans for 1,391 applicants who sustained property damage from the Aug. 8 wildfires and high winds on Maui, but officials have extended the application period through Jan. 25 because they believe more people are qualified than have applied. Barbara Nitis, public information officer for the SBA’s Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience, Field Operations Center-West, said the deadline was Dec. 11 for the SBA’s property damage loans. However, a 45-day grace period is in effect and the deadline is rapidly approaching. “Homeowners, businesses, renters and private nonprofit organizations have until Jan. 25 to apply for property damage loans,” Nitis said. “Funds are available and people are not taking full advantage. Usually we only have a two-week grace period, but in this case it’s 45 days.” SBA records as of Wednesday showed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency referred 11,145 home registrations and 4,040 business registrations to SBA’s property damage loan program. Of those, 2,461 home registrants, or 22% of FEMA referrals, applied for SBA’s property damage loan program. Some 920 business registrants, or 22.7% of FEMA referrals, applied. SBA has approved more than $188.4 million for 1,115 Maui disaster loans for property damage for homes, and more than $62.4 million for 260 businesses or private nonprofits. Nitis said homeowners who apply for property damage loans are eligible for up to $500,000 to repair or replace real estate damage and up to $100,000 to replace personal property, including automobiles.

Marking start of next phase, crews remove fire debris from first residential property in Lahaina
Hawaii News Now
The first of more than 2,000 burned properties in Lahaina has been cleared of fire debris. On Tuesday, government contractors scooped up layers of ash and old appliances from a home on Fleming Road. It all went into a plastic-lined dumptruck that slowly made it’s way south to the new Olowalu landfill. In a news release, Maui County said, “This milestone followed months of coordinated re-entry activities that allowed residents to gain access safely to their properties in each zone before debris removal began.” The debris removal is being done through a coordinated effort by FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Maui County and private contractors. Officials said this marks the start of Phase 2, in which debris is sprayed with water and wrapped in thick industrial plastic before being transported to the Temporary Debris Storage site in Oluwalu. The 19-acre disposal site was approved by the county despite some backlash from community members. Teams spent over a month prepping the area, lining the ground with plastic to hold about 400,000 cubic yards of ash and debris. The county added that during the dumping process, Maui-based Native Hawaiian cultural advisors work alongside USACE debris removal teams to monitor and provide guidance on cultural priorities. “As operations increase in the coming days, there will be teams conducting debris removal on multiple properties at the same time,” Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said.

Maui Renters Face ‘Increasingly Hostile Housing Market’ Despite Eviction Moratorium
Honolulu Civil Beat, Paula Dobbyn
A heightened wave of housing insecurity is sweeping Maui, particularly for renters.

What was already a tight and expensive market before the August wildfires has contracted further as lucrative rent subsidies, scarce inventory and high demand entice landlords to replace existing tenants with those willing to pay much more, according to interviews with housing advocates, renters and property managers.

“We’re seeing waves of displacement,” said Jordan Hocker, a tenant advocate with Maui Housing Hui, a grassroots organization. “People are getting pushed out into an increasingly hostile housing market.”

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2024

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS #WEARBLUEDAY

20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking (Department of State)

Human trafficking affects millions across the globe. Each January, the Center for Countering Human Trafficking’s (CCHT) Blue Campaign recognizes National Human Trafficking Prevention Month (HTPM) to raise awareness of and combat this heinous crime.

January 11 marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, also known as #WearBlueDay. Today, Blue Campaign invites individuals and offices to:

Wear blue, the international color of human trafficking awareness, to state your commitment to help save lives. Need inspiration? See how other organizations have participated.

Post a photo of yourself, or with your colleagues, on your personal or organization’s social media channels using the hashtag #WearBlueDay to show your commitment to wearing blue and raising awareness! You can also download ready-to-use #WearBlueDay graphics and captions to post on your social channels to spread the word. Don’t forget to tag @DHSBlueCampaign. Follow and tag us on social media (@DHSBlueCampaign on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) so we can see how you are participating.

Encourage your colleagues, friends, and family to do the same.

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Agencies release plans for moving hotel-dwelling Maui fire survivors into long-term housing
AP, Audrey McAvoy (Honolulu)
A widely distributed AP article released late Friday reports on FEMA’s plan to move thousands of Lahaina wildfire survivors on the Hawaiian island of Maui from hotels into long-term housing over the next month. FEMA’s TJ Dargan says the number of households living under long-term leases directly funded by FEMA will rise to 1,500 over the next month from 100 currently and would house a large portion of the 2,400 households who are still living in hotels months after August fire. FEMA’s hotel short-term stay funding runs out on Feb. 10 but Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has requested an extension that the agency is considering, Dargan said.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports on a new $500 million agreement that aims to get all displaced Maui residents into long-term housing by July. The Maui Interim Housing Plan hopes this will avoid the need for a moratorium on vacation rentals. Funding comes from coalition of state, local and federal officials and nonprofit organizations of which $250 million will come from FEMA.

Jan. 25 grace period approaching to submit SBA disaster loan applications
Maui Now
The deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance has passed; however, Hawaiʻi residents and businesses have been granted a 45-day grace period, until Thursday, Jan. 25, to submit their US Small Business Administration disaster loan applications for property damage caused by wildfires.

The last day for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations to apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan is Friday, May 10, 2024.

The US Small Business Administration has approved more than $289.7 million in federal disaster loans for Hawai‘i businesses, nonprofits and residents impacted by the Maui wildfires. That includes more than $101.3 million for businesses and more than $188.4 million to homeowners and renters to help them rebuild and recover from the disaster.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2023

Hawai'i Wildfires - YouTube

PSA FEMA Assistance Videos to Share

MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2023

Maui scrambles to sign up wildfire survivors before FEMA deadline
Hawaii News Now
Hawaii News Now reports FEMA representatives at the Hawaii Civic Center in Lahaina were available on the last day to file for disaster assistance to help those that have not been able to file. FEMA says nearly 7,000 people have applied for aid, but they are not sure how many more still need to apply. FEMA and the SBA have provided over $305 million has been granted to wildfire survivors. FEMA has been working with local non-profits to get more people registered before the deadline.

FEMA closing Kahului Disaster Recovery Center this Friday
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The Kahului Disaster Recovery Center on Maui is closing at 6 p.m. this Friday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Lahaina Disaster Recovery Center, however, will remain open, and other resources will still be available to survivors of the Aug. 8 wildfires, according to FEMA. Today is the deadline to apply for FEMA disaster assistance, as well as disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. FEMA said those applying online have until midnight today to apply at DisasterAssistance.gov or via the FEMA mobile app or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. FEMA says survivors can continue to get information, application updates or referrals to programs offered by FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other federal, state and local agencies and organizations at the Lahaina Disaster Recovery Center.

Lahaina school replacement 2-3 months away
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Esme M. Infante
Late February or March is the earliest that a new temporary school being built to replace the King Kameha¬meha III Elementary School campus lost in the Lahaina fire will be ready for students and teachers to occupy, based on an Army Corps of Engineers timeline. Late February or March is the earliest that a new temporary school being built to replace the King Kameha-meha III Elementary School campus lost in the Lahaina fire will be ready for students and teachers to occupy, based on an Army Corps of Engineers timeline. Construction is already underway, but the school opening is further off — and closer to the May 30 end of the state Department of Education school year — than at least some observers initially thought it would be. Col. Jesse T. Curry, recovery field office commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, had said at a Sept. 26 news conference that the temporary campus in Pulelehua, near Kapalua Airport, would take around 95 days to build, but it was unclear then when that countdown would start. Some other media reports suggested that the site might be completed around the end of the current calendar year. Meanwhile, the DOE website update at that time said, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is handling the construction of the project and estimates it could take anywhere from 95 days to six months to complete.”

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Dec. 10 deadline for Maui wildfire survivors to apply for FEMA disaster assistance
Hawaii News Now, Annalisa Burgos, Lili Hurd
Dec. 10 is the deadline for Maui wildfire survivors to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance. FEMA spokesperson Debra Young joined HNN’s Sunrise Weekends to talk about resources and what is needed to apply. FEMA’s Individual Assistance program is designed to help with basic, critical, disaster-related needs such as a safe, sanitary and accessible place to live. Assistance includes rental assistance, lodging expenses reimbursement, and home repair and replacement assistance. FEMA advises those who are covered by homeowners’ insurance to file a claim with your insurance company before applying for FEMA assistance. You don’t need to wait for a settlement before applying with FEMA. Anyone initially denied FEMA assistance is advised to contact FEMA to resolve any issues and can file a repeal within 60 days. Applicants can visit two locations on Maui at UH Maui College and Lahaina Civic Center. Maui College will be open until Dec.15, while Lahaina Civic Center will be open through the end of the year. FEMA is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer low-interest loans for homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or completely destroyed in the wildfires. Those eligible can borrow up to $500,000 from SBA to repair or replace their primary residence and up to $100,000 to repair or replace personal property. FEMA is also seeking property owners to rent units suitable for families and individuals displaced by the Maui wildfires. Companies and owners would exclusively rent to FEMA for use as temporary housing for 12 months with the possibility of two additional six-month contract extensions, totaling 24 months.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Registration deadline approaches for FEMA meeting on housing for wildfire victims
Hawaii Public Radio
FEMA has invited owners of short-term rental properties on Maui to an informational and open forum meeting on Friday to discuss its Direct Lease program. The program aims to help the thousands of displaced wildfire victims who remain in hotels and temporary housing on Maui. Specialists at the event plan to present information about the program and answer any questions owners might have about signing up. Three property management companies have been selected to help facilitate communication between property owners and the government agency. Under the Direct Lease program, FEMA says they will lease the property directly from the short-term rental owners at Fair Market Rent, which currently ranges from about $1,700 to $3,200 in Maui County for 2024. Available properties will be offered to survivors for long-term leasing for up to 24 months. The in-person informational event will be held at the Westin Maui Resort on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It will also be accessible to stream online. Those interested in the virtual or in-person options must register by Thursday evening.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Hawaiian Electric seeks federal trial amid dozens of Maui wildfire lawsuits
Hawaii News Now
Attorneys for Hawaiian Electric Company, who face dozens of lawsuits blaming the utility for the Maui fires, are trying to get the cases tried in federal court and not on Maui. Most of the lawsuits say MECO either caused the fires when high winds sparked downed power lines or didn’t do enough to prevent the risk or the damage once the fires began. Now, HECO is asking the federal courts to try the case in Honolulu with a federal judge. They argue that federal jurisdiction is possible because one of the many companies and agencies being sued is out of state. Attorneys suing the company will object to moving the case. Hawaiian Electric argues that the federal courts have more resources to deal with such a massive case. All the lawsuits are expected to be put into a single trial.

Deadline approaching for SBA wildfire loan assistance
Hawaii News Now, Mark Carpenter
There are only a few days left for homeowners and businesses impacted by the Maui wildfires to apply for assistance from the Small Business Administration. Monday, Dec. 11, is the deadline to apply for the SBA loans if your home or business suffered physical damage in the disaster. Homeowners are eligible for loans of up to $500,000, $100,000 for renters, and businesses can apply for up to $2 million in assistance. All are at low interest rates and payments can be deferred up to a year, especially with so many facing a lengthy rebuild. “It might be up to three years, so that’s why we are working with them to accommodate if you are not ready to receive those funds,” said Barbara Nitis, who works with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience. “You don’t have to worry about the repayment until that date of that first disbursement.” Over the last four months, the SBA has distributed $260 million to victims, which has already surpassed aid given following Typhoon Mawar in Guam. Those interested in applying must first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they will then be directed to the SBA.

$2.5M state program hopes to get more displaced Maui families into stable housing
Hawai’I Public Radio, Catherine Cruz
It’s been almost a week since the state rolled out its plan to entice more property owners of short-term rentals to offer their units for families displaced by the Maui wildfires. The state Department of Human Services launched the details Friday to meet the gap of those ineligible for FEMA programs. With $2.5 million in funding, the program offers housing for up to 12 months by connecting families with Airbnb or the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation. The Conversation checked in with Trista Speer, a deputy director at DHS, about the Rental Assistance Program. So far, the department has been able to get half a dozen FEMA-ineligible families into more stable housing. Households that have been identified as FEMA-ineligible and in need of housing will be contacted.

FEMA invites Maui property owners to Direct Lease informational event
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is inviting short-term rental property owners to its Direct Lease Industry Day this Friday. The agency is “actively seeking” rental units suitable for families and individuals displaced by the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires for long-term leases of up to 24 months, according to a news release. FEMA’s Direct Lease program allows property owners to earn “fair and stable compensation” while housing a family in need. Through the program, FEMA leases vacant properties to displaced families and individuals directly from property management companies. The agency has contracts with three property management companies to facilitate communication between property owners and FEMA. Properties for lease must be no more than 40 miles or 45 minutes away from the damaged homes in Lahaina.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST, 2023

Rebuild or leave? Lahaina's immigrant families struggle to have hope
Hawai’i Public Radio, Cassie Ordonio
Hawaii Public Radio reports more than three months after deadly wildfires many of Lahaina's immigrant communities are facing the dilemma of deciding whether to wait and rebuild or leave their homes forever. The article says immigrants and migrants are currently in temporary housing provided by the American Red Cross until Feb. 10. But it's unclear whether displaced individuals will be placed in permanent housing by that time. State officials have said that rebuilding Lahaina could take three to five years. While FEMA has extended its deadline to Dec. 9 for impacted homeowners and renters to apply for assistance, some immigrants may not qualify, depending on their immigration status. Local recovery specialists say that if at least one person in the household is a U.S. citizen, they can qualify for FEMA assistance.

DHS News Release: State Of Hawai‘I Department of Human Services Launches Interim Disaster Case Management Program
Hawai’i Department of Human Services
Governor Josh Green, M.D., and the State of Hawai‘i Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced the launch of an interim Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP) for survivors of the Maui wildfires.

AARP Hawaiʻi announces $625,000 in grants to support Maui wildfire victims
Maui Now
AARP Hawaiʻi today announced grants totaling $625,000 from AARP Foundation that will go to local organizations providing relief assistance to older victims of the recent Maui wildfires. The wildfires took the lives of at least 100 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2023

Domestic violence doubles on Maui in wake of wildfires
Hawaii News Now, Ben Gutierrez
Hawaii News Now reports calls to Maui’s only domestic violence emergency hotline have more than doubled in the wake of the August 8th wildfires. FEMA says the surge is consistent with research showing the link between violence and stress, which is increased by disasters. FEMA response teams report more than 12,000 behavioral health encounters on Maui since August 8. And while experts say the shock is wearing off, secondary traumas are setting in. The article says increasing cases are also placing stresses on mental health and domestic violence care providers, who are doing their best to keep up with the demand.

Hawai’i Wildfires YouTube playlist: youtube.com/playlist?list=PL720Kw_OojlIM8FHJj9BdjiwvYom-orLO.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Grief In Stages: Fire Survivors Find Comfort In Mauiʻs Unique Ways
Honolulu Civil Beat, Allan Kew
Unconventional approaches to addressing trauma offer pathways to recovery.

Ordinarily Spirit Horse Ranch uses equine treatment — calming and centering exercises with horses — to assist abused children and young adults recover from trauma and regain their agency. But with the help of a $65,000 grant from Hawaii Community Foundation, the Kula ranch has shifted to counseling Maui residents affected by the August wildfires.

FEMA shares important rental assistance information for Maui wildfire survivors
Maui Now (Hawaii)
In Hawaii, Maui Now reports FEMA is urging wildfire survivors to stay in touch with FEMA because they may be eligible for continued rental assistance for temporary housing after the initial two-month grant period. Survivors may be able to receive FEMA rental assistance for up to a maximum of 18 months from the president’s major disaster declaration, or Feb. 10, 2024. Those interested should reach out to FEMA regularly and let the specialists know that they still need rental assistance for temporary housing. Survivors must complete an application for Continued Temporary Housing Assistance. In other wildfire news, Hawaii News Now reports 600 Maui businesses have closed since the wildfires, and hundreds more are on the brink of closing. Lahaina was home to about 1,100 businesses before the fire. Many of the businesses closing are outside of the direct impact area and don’t qualify for emergency grants or loans.

Federal partners team up for Hawai‘i wildfires cleanup

DVIDS, Erin Jimenez (Lahaina)
Disasters are multi-dynamic, fluid events that evolve rapidly. Given the fast-paced nature of disasters, a comprehensive disaster response requires teamwork. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often collaborate on various environmental and regulatory matters in the United States. These two agencies have distinct roles and responsibilities, but their work often intersects, particularly when it comes to debris removal and environmental cleanup efforts in the event of natural disasters, emergencies, or hazardous material spills. USACE and the EPA have team members deployed to Maui on debris removal mission assignments from FEMA after the Hawaii wildfires that impacted property owners in Lahaina, Kula, and Olinda, on Aug. 8. To be successful, the debris removal mission will require synchronized coordination between USACE and EPA throughout the entirety of the cleanup process. “Since day one, we have been in constant consultation with USACE,” said Michael Brogan, assistant public information officer for the EPA. “Whether it’s our liaison officers, public information officers, incident command, general staff or commander, we always make sure to keep the line of communication open, it’s really a team effort for both our agencies.” Col. Jess Curry, Hawai‘i Wildfire Field Officer commander, said the strong partnership and cooperation between the USACE and EPA teams has been instrumental in getting the hazardous material and debris cleanup started. The debris removal process involves two phases. Phase 1 is currently underway and involves the removal and disposal of hazardous materials by the EPA from all properties impacted by the wildfires.

Wildfire, health emergencies elevated in state disaster plan
KHON2
The state is changing how it gets ready for disasters, and wildfire has been elevated to a high risk. It's all in an updated State Hazard Mitigation Plan required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be updated every five years in order to qualify for federal grants. e Lahaina fires weighed in on the final draft. “Overall we had three fires on Maui, Lahaina, Kula as well as in Kihei, and then also on the Big Island in Kohala,” said Don Aweau, executive officer at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, regarding the August blazes. “So those factors bumped up wildfire in the rankings. We do have to worry about other high risks, hurricanes, also flooding, as well as a tsunami. Of course, we have lava and earthquakes.” Health emergencies also got bumped up to higher risk in this edition, in the wake of the pandemic.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2023

MAUI WILDFIRES

Hawaiʻi House Finance Committee visits Maui to see projects, programs; learn community needs
Maui Now (Hawaii)
Members of the Hawaiʻi House Finance Committee, led by Chair Kyle T. Yamashita, visited Maui to view firsthand several projects and programs supported by the State Legislature, and tour state-owned properties in Lahaina and around the island. Committee members met with stakeholders to learn about community needs and identify key priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Department of Health reports ‘financial recovery’ among greatest needs for Lahaina

Pacific Business News, Kelsey Kukaua Medeiros (Hawaii)
DOH is working with program leaders and other partners to develop recommendations for the issues identified by this assessment.

Maui emergency officials ignored advice, turned down help in early hours of disaster
Hawaii News Now, Allyson Blair
A Hawaii News Now investigation has uncovered multiple instances where the people calling the shots during the Lahaina wildfire disaster rebuked suggestions along with offers of help from outside agencies in the early hours of the unfolding disaster. While no specific FEMA mention, the article says HNN has asked Maui's mayor why decisions were made to turn down help from outside agencies prior to knowing the scope of the disaster and what other offers of assistance the county declined between Aug. 8-10. Nearly a week later, HNN is still waiting for a response. One emergency management expert on crisis analysis says, “Generally speaking, if there are indications of an event that is potentially escalating or where you have not yet developed good situational awareness of what’s happening, it’s generally prudent to act on the basis of a bad- or worst-case scenario.”

GUAM TYPHOON

First DUA checks released
Guam Daily Post (Guam)
The first batch of Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits totaling $252,898 has been processed and released, according to a statement from the Guam Department of Labor. "We are still in the midst of sifting through thousands of pending claims while also continuing to assist claimants with numerous outstanding issues," GDOL Director David Dell’Isola stated in the release. "Adjudicators have been working hard to process all claims with the required supporting documents submitted so we can pay those first. As we move forward, more time will be devoted to resolving claims with eligibility issues," he added. GDOL reminds claimants and employers to respond to inquiries and requests for information as soon as possible to prevent delays with the processing of DUA claims.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Coral reefs identified as national natural infrastructure
UC Santa Cruz, Elisa Smith
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) approved a resolution on Oct. 26 that designates coral reefs along U.S. states and territories as national infrastructure. This resolution makes it easier to direct federal funding, particularly infrastructure, hazard mitigation, and disaster recovery monies, to reef conservation and restoration to protect people, property, and livelihoods.

HURRICANES

Caribbean disturbance continues west as Pilar sits off Pacific coast of Central America
Nola.com, Kasey Bubnash
A trough of low pressure over the eastern Caribbean Sea is continuing west toward Central America, where it's expected to bring heavy rain and potential flooding in the next few days, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Wednesday morning. The system, which is producing a large area of showers and thunderstorms, has a 50% chance of forming into a tropical storm or depression within the next week, down slightly from Tuesday's prediction. But the system is still expected to move through conditions that could support further development later this week.

PREPAREDNESS

Harbor receives FEMA grant
Daily Triplicate, (California)
The Crescent City Harbor District secured a $1.35 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for disaster preparedness. The development is the result of an application submitted in 2022 as part of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. It is a pivotal grant that will finance the development of mitigation strategies and the implementation of defenses against future tsunamis and sea level rise. “We’ve always emphasized that the best way to honor our past is to ensure a safer future,” CEO/Harbormaster Tim Petrick said. “With this grant, we are doing just that, ensuring that the tragedies of yesterday do not define our tomorrows.” The development is the result of an application submitted in 2022 as part of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. It is a pivotal grant that will finance the development of mitigation strategies and the implementation of defenses against future tsunamis and sea level rise. The Harbor District will eventually approach FEMA with shovel ready plans and request additional funding for construction. The team at Community System Solutions (CSS), a professional grant writing and management firm, led the grant initiative and successfully managed the grant application process by working closely with FEMA and the CCHD Leadership Team.

SW BORDER

San Diego officials call for closure of southern border amid terror concerns: 'Shut it down'
Fox News, Adam Shaw
Fox News reports officials in California's San Diego County are calling for the closure of the southern border, amid heightened terror concerns and a recent memo warning of the potential for terrorist fighters to attempt to enter the U.S. While no specific FEMA mention was made, the article references an internal DHS memo warning individuals "inspired by, or reacting to, the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border." Lawmakers have cited the record number of encounters of people on the terror watch list. Statistics show that there were 169 encounters by Border Patrol in FY 23. DHS has called for more funding from Congress, including a recent $14 billion supplemental request, while also urging Republicans to pass immigration reform legislation.

Meanwhile in New York City, WABC News 7 reports Gov. Eric Adams said Tuesday that “everything is on the table” to mitigate the flow of migrants into his city. The city has seen as many as 4,000 migrants enter the city in one week and the administration has struggled to find emergency housing and the money to pay for migrant services. The mayor is determined to avoid migrant tent cities on the streets and in public parks as seen in other cities.

5,000 migrants traveling by foot to cross US-Mexico border
KERO News (California)
A caravan with an estimated 5,000 migrants is heading north towards the U.S. The movement comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for migrant encounters along the southwest border. In recent months, city leaders experiencing a spike in migrant crossings sought support from the federal government. Republican Sens. John Barrasso, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and Pete Ricketts recently embarked on a border tour and bashed the Biden administration for its stance on immigration. "We have a humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border and it's created by Joe Biden's failed and inept policies," said Ricketts. "We are hopeful that the broken immigration system under which we operate will be fixed," said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

WILDFIRES

Highland Fire: Evacuations ordered as 2,200-acre brushfire burns in Riverside County
CBS Los Angeles, Dean Fioresi (Aguanga)
The Highland Fire in Aguanga in Riverside County is now 2,200 acres and burning out of control, forcing thousands to evacuate. At least nine structures have been damaged, but no injuries have been reported, according to fire officials. The fire broke out Monday afternoon in the area of Highlands Road and Aguanga Ranchos Road, near the junction for Highways 79 and 371. Officials say the fast-moving flames are being fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and dry conditions, causing the fire to quickly grow.

Arizona awards $8 million grants to reduce invasive weeds that fuel wildfires
KJZZ 91.5, Ron Dungan
The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management has awarded nearly $8 million in grants to help reduce the risk of wildfire. Much of the money will be used to remove invasive plants. Tiffany Davilla, of the Department of Forestry and Fire Management, said that more than $1 million will go to cities, parks and nonprofits to help remove buffelgrass, fountain grass and other invasive species.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2023

TYPHOON BOLAVEN

Guam back to normal with no known major damages from Typhoon Bolaven

Pacific Daily News, Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Joint Region Marianas Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman declared a return to Condition of Readiness 4 at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with the governor saying that Guam has not sustained major damages.

MAUI WILDFIRES

Maui County won't say who was in charge during Lahaina fire
KITV4, Jeremy Lee (Lahaina, HI)
On the afternoon of Aug. 8, an incident commander in Maui County should have been directing the emergency response to the Lahaina fire. Neither Maui County's communications director, nor the Joint Operations Center working on behalf of Maui County, will disclose who was calling the shots; or if anybody was at all.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Preparing for Climate Disasters Can Protect Black Wealth
Dallas Weekly, Bria Overs
Climate disasters are here to stay, and they’re putting excessive and unequal burdens on the finances of Black Americans. Since 1980, the United States has experienced 371 weather and climate disasters, costing an estimated $2.6 trillion, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

EARTHQUAKES

What to do during and after an earthquake in San Diego County
The San Diego Union-Tribune (San Diego, CA)
While the famed San Andreas Fault steers clear of San Diego County, most residents live less than 15 miles from a fault line. As a result, most San Diegans have been told to drop, cover, and hold. But sometimes, that advice doesn’t cut it. What if you’re in the car? At the store? And what do you even do once the shaking has subsided?

FEDERAL FUNDING

Safford, La Paz County get $4.3 million to update water distribution system
KJZZ, Anabel Munoz, Alisa Reznick (La Paz County, AZ)

Federal money is coming to the rural county of La Paz and the city of Safford for updated water infrastructure. The rural county and city will collectively get more than $4.3 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

PREPAREDNESS

‘I want to help’: Inspired by Maui, students gather for disaster response course
Hawaii News Now, Casey Lunch (Wailuku)
More than 100 high school students from across the state are gathered at Baldwin High School this week for a three-day intensive course to give them the skills they need to be prepared for future emergencies. They are learning skills like CPR and first aid through a program called CERT — Community Emergency Response Training.

Glendale announces new Community Alert System for quick emergency notification
KTAR News, Brandon Gray (Phoenix, AZ)
Community members and visitors to the city of Glendale can get emergency notifications with its new Community Alert System. The city announced the rollout of the system Thursday, and it will offer a multichannel approach. Alerts can be received through email, phone calls or text messages. In addition, geo-tagging will be used to notify citizens of events.

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