County announces decisions about lava-damaged infrastructure

Water systems to Kapoho will not be restored using federal funds, according to Hawaii County.

The county announced late Wednesday new decisions regarding the use of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to restore infrastructure in Puna that was damaged during the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

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Those decisions include the decision to not restore Kapoho’s water infrastructure, and instead pursue the potential restoration of the water line to Isaac Hale Beach Park.

The county also announced that it will not use FEMA funds to restore Hinalo or Lauone streets, which were both inundated by lava near Leilani Estates.

Future decisions regarding those roads will be based on participation in the county’s Voluntary Housing Buyout Program.

Meanwhile, the county is working with FEMA to review final designs for restoration projects on Highway 137 and Lighthouse Road.

Because the county expects FEMA will require an environmental assessment for Highway 137, an updated timeline for that project is anticipated within the month.

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“The county based these decisions for use of federal recovery funding on continued engagement with communities impacted by the eruption in order to provide the best benefit for the Puna community in the long-term,” said Douglas Le, disaster recovery officer, in a statement Wednesday.

“That includes addressing important issues such as participation in the county’s Voluntary Housing Buyout Program, traffic circulation, emergency evacuation, and social and economic needs for the area. FEMA funds not used for restoring particular infrastructure will be used to support alternate projects in Puna.”

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