SNAP Reimbursement Deadline Extended for Maui County and Hawaii Island

The federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which administers states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps, has extended Hawaii’s reimbursement deadline for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle.

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Hawaii SNAP administrators requested the extension through Aug. 30, 2014 to provide thousands of Hawaii Island and Maui County households additional time to apply for assistance.  Due to storm damage and debris, many individuals and families were unable to leave their homes by the original deadline.

Reimbursement is limited to the actual dollar value of food destroyed and cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment. To qualify, the individual or household must have been receiving SNAP benefits when the disaster occurred, and report the food spoilage to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) office on their island by Aug. 30, 2014.

Individual or household applying for reimbursement must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1)        Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2)        General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3)        Length of time household power was out;

4)        Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5)        Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned by the specified deadline.

Natural disasters affect everyone in striking range.  However, elderly and/or disabled individuals, families with infants and minor children, and families with limited income are disproportionately affected because they are lack the necessary resources to replenish food supplies or other basic necessities.  It is these populations that make up the estimated 98,000 Hawaii households that currently receive SNAP benefits.

To reach the BESSD offices in Maui County call on Maui 808-984-3300; on Molokai 808-553-1751; and on Lanai 808-565-7102.  To reach the Hilo BESSD Office call 808-981-7288.

 

HELCO Warns of New Scams After Hurricane Iselle

Hawaii Electric Light Company reminds customers to be aware of scams targeting Hawaii Island customers in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle.

Customers reported receiving telephone calls from someone claiming to be a Hawaii Electric Light claims representative. The customers were asked to provide their social security number. The company also received reports of individuals wearing safety vests and climbing fences and gates to access homes.

Hawaii Electric Light will not contact customers to request personal information or direct customers to submit payments via options other than those listed on the back of the billing statement. The company also will not access private property without first notifying the customer. Employees and approved contractors wear photo identification badges and their vehicles are clearly marked.

For your safety and protection:

  • Never provide personal, confidential or financial information to an unidentified individual.
  • Ask questions or ask for proper identification. Request the individual’s name, company name, and phone number.
  • Be cautious when responding to callers from an unidentified phone number. Phone scammers want to remain anonymous.
  • Be aware that today’s technology can be used to mask the caller’s phone number and the caller ID could indicate the call is originating from Hawai’i Electric Light, even though it is not.
  • Report any suspicious activity to local police.

To obtain a claim form, please visit one of our customer service locations in Hilo, Waimea or Kona or visit our website at www.hawaiielectriclight.com.

Shaka For HELCO

Lava Flow Continues to Advance – Could Become Threat to Residential Areas in Weeks to Months

The June 27th lava flow, named for the date it began erupting, continues to advance to the northeast of its vent on the flank of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone.  As of Friday, August 22, the front of the flow was 10.7 km (6.6 mi) northeast of the vent.

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According to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua, the lava flow is not an immediate threat to residential areas or infrastructure downhill of the flow, but could become one in weeks to months if lava continues to advance.

This view is to the east, with the forested cone of Heiheiahulu partly obscured by the smoke plume from this angle. (Click to Enlarge)

This view is to the east, with the forested cone of Heiheiahulu partly obscured by the smoke plume from this angle. (Click to Enlarge)

HVO scientists, who mapped the flow during an overflight Friday morning, report that the flow was active along two fronts. The northern branch was advancing northeastward across fairly flat land, while the southern branch had flowed into a ground crack within the rift zone. By tracing the steam issuing from the crack, lava is inferred to have advanced 1.4 km (0.9 mi) over the past 4 days, putting it 3.8 km (2.4 mi) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve.

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The difficulty in forecasting the flow’s exact path is that “downhill of the flow” can be affected by subtle variations in topography (shape and features of the ground surface), changes in lava supply (volume increases or decreases), and where and how lava enters or exits ground cracks along the rift zone.

Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone eruption began in January 1983.  Since then, most lava flows have advanced to the south, reaching the ocean about 75 precent of the time.  But the northeastward movement of the June 27th lava flow is not unprecedented.  Lava flows also traveled northeast of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō episodically in 1983-1986 and for four months in 2007, as well as during the past 19 months.  The most distal point reached by the Kahauale‘a and Kahauale‘a 2 lava flows, which were active from early 2013 until June 2014, was 8.8 km (5.5 mi) northeast of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō.

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The June 27th lava flow is advancing through a heavily forested area on Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone. This area of the rift zone is exceedingly hazardous to hikers as it is highly fractured, with numerous, deep ground cracks that are difficult to see because of the heavy vegetation. Another hazard in the area includes methane explosions that occur when lava flows over vegetated land.

The June 27th lava flow is currently within the Kahauale‘a Natural Area Reserve, which has been closed by the Hawaii State Department of Natural Land and Resources (DLNR) due to the ongoing volcanic hazards, and the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, also closed by DLNR and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

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HVO continues to closely monitor the June 27th lava flow through increased overflights, satellite imagery, and webcam images, and is keeping Hawai‘i County Civil Defense fully informed about the flow’s location. The public can track the lava flow activity through maps, photos, and daily eruption updates posted on the HVO website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php. Should the lava flow become an immediate threat to residential areas or infrastructure, HVO will begin posting more frequent updates.