.


County hoping Disaster Assistance Center can open by weekend

  • U.S. Geological Survey photo This photo, taken Tuesday, shows ongoing eruptive activity at fissure No. 8 in Kilauea volcano's lower East Rift Zone.

The next couple of days will be instrumental in establishing recovery efforts for those displaced by lava from Kilauea volcano’s current eruption that started on May 3.

According to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim, the mayor said this morning that the county’s application for additional assistance from the federal government will be going to Gov. David Ige’s office today, a necessary step before it is forwarded to the feds.

ADVERTISING


Snyder said Tom Fargione, who’s in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Management Assistance Team, is hopeful that a Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) can be established by the end of the week.

“Tom Fargione said the center would be open until the last client comes in,” Snyder said.

The county is looking to locate the center, which would assist all eligible individuals, in the Keaau High School gymnasium, and it would be open seven days a week, Snyder said.

“They’re going to be dealing with things like rental assistance, etc., that only the county can provide,” Snyder said. “The state can’t do it and certainly the county can’t do it.”

According to Snyder, the DAC, while serving as a clearinghouse for applications for FEMA assistance, would also include agencies such as the Red Cross and county and state governments, plus social services.

Snyder said a presidential declaration is required before the DAC can be established.

Once established, homeowners who lost their properties can apply for federal funds from FEMA. Federal homeowner assistance grants range from $4,000 to $34,000, depending on circumstances.

FEMA is already providing assistance with rebuilding government infrastructure.

According to Snyder, Steve Brantley, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory deputy scientist-in-charge, said this morning there are no significant changes in the ongoing eruptive activity along Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone and at the volcano’s summit.

Lava from fissure No. 8 is still sending lava into the ocean and “there is a fairly large laze plume.” “Laze” is a toxic volcanic haze that combines steam with hydrochloric acid and tiny particles of volcanic glass, and is a health hazard if inhaled.

Another summit eruption occurred at 3:39 a.m. today and sent an ash plume 7,000-8,000 feet above sea level, which drifted toward the southwest, according to the HVO website.

Snyder said he National Weather Service reported winds are weak northeasterlies, or tradewinds.

ADVERTISING


“Over the next couple of days, we’re going to get winds from the easterly direction that will take the vog inland to the Big Island interior and to Pahala, Ocean View and the wraparound to Kona,” Snyder said. “This will happen until early next week. The trades will return early next week.’

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.