Disaster recovery survey deadline nears

Hundreds have responded to community surveys that aim to aid the county in its recovery from the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano in lower Puna.

Three surveys, addressing household, community and business impacts caused by the eruption, can be taken through Aug. 30.

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Recovery spokesman Tom Callis said Tuesday the county has received 348 responses to the household survey, 311 responses to the community survey, and 155 responses to the business survey.

“The purpose of the surveys is to help refine recovery objectives and set recovery strategies and scenarios,” he said.

Bob Agres, manager for disaster recovery community engagement and collaboration, said the “numbers are pretty good, as surveys go.”

“The other part that’s been pretty exciting is how residents have been helping spread the word,” he said.

But he hopes as many people take the surveys as possible.

“That’s the reason we tried to reach out to all property owners in the Puna district,” Agres said, to give individuals a chance to share their experiences and what their hopes are for recovery so the county can be responsive, and so the recovery strategic plan will be reflective of what the community is envisioning.

The Household Impact and Opportunity Assessment will clarify the unmet needs families are experiencing and guide family outreach and long-term community planning.

It asks questions like whether the respondent still has housing needs, how an individual would classify living conditions now compared to before the 2018 eruption, what their living arrangements were before the eruption and what the current living situation is, and long-term housing goals, among others.

The Community Impact and Opportunity Assessment will guide decisions about long-term recovery, including hazard mitigation, land use and natural and cultural resource management, infrastructure investments, housing and economic development.

Survey-takers are asked the degree to which they agree or disagree with possible objectives of four recovery goal areas affirmed by the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee in May.

Meanwhile, the Business Impact and Opportunity Assessment will follow up on the business survey sent in the early days of the eruption. The results will identify ongoing economic impacts as well as challenges and opportunities for business recovery.

That survey asks questions about the current condition of one’s business or industry, how the business is doing compared to a year ago, what the direct impact to one’s business was from the eruption or Hurricane Lane, which dumped record-breaking rains in East Hawaii last August, and how long a business was closed after those events.

Initially, the survey deadline was in early August but was extended to Aug. 30.

“The deadline was extended because there were delays in getting the mailer out to Puna property owners,” Callis said. “The mailer was one way the county advertised the surveys, and we wanted to make sure there was time for it to get to them.”

The surveys, though, are “just one tool that is being used to get people’s input,” Agres said.

Agres said the recovery team already has received input from more than 1,000 residents in talk story sessions, talked to more than 400 students and their ohana, and had nearly 150 people attend a “Speak Out” program last month.

There will continue to be more of these opportunities in the coming months as well, he said.

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Surveys can be found online at recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/connect/impact-status-survey-suite.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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