State transferring crisis counseling services back to local resources

After more than a year of providing crisis counseling to those affected by the 2018 Kilauea eruption, the state Department of Health is transferring those in need of such services to local resources.

More than 700 homes were destroyed during the eruption, which began May 3, 2018. More than 6,000 acres of land in lower Puna were covered with lava, and more than 2,000 individuals were displaced.

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Gov. David Ige immediately signed an emergency proclamation that authorized the expenditure of state funds for quick and efficient relief.

The DOH Adult Mental Health Division received about $950,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program to support Hawaii Island residents during the disaster.

DOH contracted with the crisis counseling team of CARE Hawaii Inc., a local nonprofit organization, to serve on the frontlines and reach out to disaster survivors.

The program provided individuals, families and groups with free counseling services to cope with the extraordinary stress caused by the emergency. In collaboration with CARE Hawaii, DOH was able to serve more than 3,700 individuals throughout a period of more than a year.

“We are very pleased with our partnership with CARE Hawaii and the support of other organizations that stepped forward to offer help to Hawaii Island residents through that difficult period,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson. “We witnessed a true spirit of aloha as people came together to help each other.”

Although the eruption stopped and the initial phase of the crisis is finished, the DOH said many remain homeless, in search of permanent homes, and most shelters in the Pahoa area remain 75 percent full.

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While emergency proclamation funding is no longer available and officially ends Thursday, those in need of crisis counseling services are being referred to local resources.

For a listing of community resources and human services assistance information, Big Island residents can contact the Crisis Line of Hawaii, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll free at 1-800-753-6879.

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