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Informational Public Meetings for Hawaii County’s FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is at the end of a multi-year effort to update and modernize the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Hawai‘i County.  The FIRM has been finalized and will become effective on September 29, 2017.  The opportunities to appeal the maps were over last year.  The FIRM will help community officials better identify known flood risks and will be used for flood insurance, land use, development, and regulatory purposes.  Use of the FIRM is required for the County’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes the County eligible for federal disaster aid in the event of a federally declared natural disaster.

Click to access the Flood Assessment Tool

The main purpose of these informational public meetings is:

To inform property owners, residents, and interested parties about the impacts the final Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) will have on flood insurance.  It will help them make an informed decision about flood insurance options and flood protection measures.  The details on the two informational public meetings are shown below:

  • Hilo – Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi St., Suite 1, Hilo, HI  96720, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Kona – Thursday, July 13, 2017, West Hawaii Civic Center, Bldg. G, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua Kona, HI  96740, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Doors open at 5:00 p.m., formal presentation starts at 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Personnel from FEMA, State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Hawai‘i County will be available to answer questions, concerns, and provide information on flood insurance and property specific flood zone determinations.

The final FIRMs are currently available for viewing at the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works Engineering offices at either 101 Pauahi St., Suite 7 in Hilo (808 961-8327) or 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Hwy., Building D, 1st  floor of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona (808 323-4850). They are also available for online viewing on the State of Hawai‘i’s Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT) at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat.  To learn how to view the preliminary maps using the FHAT, click on the tutorial link provided on the Hawai‘i NFIP Website http://dlnreng.hawaii.gov/nfip/.

Be advised that flood insurance rates will be based on the new flood data.  If a property is mapped into a high-risk area (an SFHA labeled with letters starting with “A” or “V”) on the new FIRM and the owner has a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, flood insurance will be required when the FIRM becomes effective.  Property owners who obtain flood insurance before the FIRM becomes effective may be able to benefit from the NFIP’s “grandfathering” insurance rating process and pay a lower premium.

Everyone is at some risk from flooding, even those behind levees or in low or medium-risk areas. Therefore, FEMA encourages everyone to purchase flood insurance.  Property owners should contact their insurance agent or visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more information.

If you require special accommodations or auxiliary aid/ and or services to participate in this meeting, (i.e. Sign language interpreter, large print,) please call (808) 961-8321 by July 5, 2017.

For more information call Barett Otani, Department of Public Works Information and Education Specialist at (808) 961-8787.

Puna Lava Flow – FEMA Aid “Need and Warranted” Under Disaster Declaration

declaration lava

Click to read declaration

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of Hawaii.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for emergency protective measures (Category B) taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

FEMA Statement on Federal Aid for State of Hawaii After Tropical Storm Iselle

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Hawaii to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Tropical Storm Iselle during the period of August 7-9, 2014.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Tropical Storm Iselle in Hawaii and Maui counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Kenneth K. Suiso has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Suiso said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

FEMA Aid Denied to Hawaii and Iselle Victims

The State of Hawaii’s request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle was denied today by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate. The request sought Individual Assistance for individuals and households affected by the tropical storm in early August and Hazard Mitigation funds for use in statewide projects.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014.    Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014. Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Administrator Fugate’s denial letter states: “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), formerly known as State Civil Defense, continues to work with federal and county officials on an application for assistance to rebuild public infrastructure.

People still in need of assistance following Iselle should call Hawaii County at (808) 935-0031 or the volunteer request line at (808) 464-3175.

The American Red Cross and the Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters continues to take donations to help those affected by Iselle. Donations can be made through the following channels:

American Red Cross (Hawaii Chapter), Phone: (808) 734-2101 http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu

Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters

Hurricane Iselle Long-Term Relief and Recovery Fund

Iselle donations may be dropped off at any American Savings Bank.

https://hivoad.communityos.org/cms/contact_hi

 

Senator Schatz Urges President Obama, FEMA for Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) wrote letters to President Barack Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today supporting the State of Hawai‘i’s request for a major disaster declaration due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

Senator Brian Schatz  in Puna.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna.

“Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i,” Senator Schatz wrote. “Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.”

Senator Schatz also expressed his support for the State’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County, statewide Hazard Mitigation, and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs to help with the recovery.

Since Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall, Senator Schatz’s office has been in close contact with the White House to discuss the impact of the storm and how the federal government can help residents and communities rebuild. Last week, Senator Schatz traveled to Puna and met with Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Russell Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council, and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia trees, which damaged infrastructure and caused widespread debris on Hawai‘i Island.

The full text of the letter to President Obama follows:

August 25, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in support of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

On August 7, 2014, Hurricane Iselle approached the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall on August 8, 2014, which then became a tropical storm. The Governor declared a statewide state of emergency on August 6, 2014 and signed a supplemental proclamation on August 14, 2014, which extended the state of emergency until October 17, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.

Pursuant to Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121-5207), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I ask that you swiftly approve Governor Abercrombie’s request that the State of Hawai‘i receive a major disaster declaration. Specifically, I support the Governor’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County. I also support his request for Hazard Mitigation statewide and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Regards,

BRIAN SCHATZ
United States Senator

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at: scd.hawaii.gov

Congresswoman Gabbard Releases Details on Steps to Get Federal Aid for Puna

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released details on the next steps that must be taken to quickly and effectively bring federal aid to Puna residents on Hawaiʻi Island whose homes and property were damaged by Hurricane Iselle.

Hayden and Tulsi Squatting

The congresswoman spent Friday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and employees of the Hawaiʻi County Office of Housing visiting people’s homes and meeting with residents, as FEMA assessed the cost of damages and gathered information for a detailed report that will be submitted to Governor Abercrombie. The governor will then be able to request federal aid from President Obama through a disaster declaration.

“I’m urging FEMA, Hawaiʻi County, the governor, and President Obama to expedite the process of declaring Iselle’s devastation a natural disaster so that the people of Puna can receive immediate help,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, whose congressional district includes all of Hawaiʻi Island. “I’ve met with residents who have lost everything, and though they’ve shown strength, resiliency, and compassion for their neighbors, many families in Puna are looking for federal assistance to start putting their lives back together after this overwhelming storm.”

FEMA assessments have been finalized except for a small category to be completed today. Although homes and residential area assessments are complete, the infrastructure damage evaluation will take another two to three more days. The governor and his staff are working through all of the assessment details now and will request federal aid from President Obama when they’re confident they have all of the pertinent data; they expect to have a timeline by this evening.

On Friday, Rep. Gabbard was briefed by Hawaiʻi Army National Guard Colonel Moses Kaoiwi at Keaukaha Military Reserve’s Emergency Operations Center in Hilo. He showed an overview of the damage caused by Hurricane Iselle on Hawaiʻi Island, and they discussed the progress of relief efforts and plans to move forward.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard continues to work with federal, state, and county officials to ensure that every available resource is being utilized to expedite recovery efforts and provide the services, supplies, and tools that are needed to guarantee the safety, health, and wellbeing of all those affected by Hurricane Iselle. The Disaster Assistance Recovery Centers (DARC) are still operating and federal, state, and local agencies are there to continue assisting people in need. As of this morning, water service has been restored to all areas of Hawaiʻi Island affected by Iselle, while approximately 1,500 customers are still without electricity.

Video – Highway 132 After Hurricane Iselle

After Hurricane Iselle hit the Big Island of Hawaii, the Puna District was hit hardest.  Highway 132 is the highway that many folks use to get to Kapoho and the Pohoiki areas of the Big Island.

Emergency sign announcing the closure of Highway 132.

Emergency sign announcing the closure of Highway 132.

The Highway remained closed for nearly a week as road crews and HELCO crews worked to clear the damages that was done.

Yesterday, I took a drive through there and this is what I was shocked to see… mind you that when you use to drive this route… you couldn’t even see the sky because the canopy of trees literally covered the road.

Senator Schatz to Rejoin Team in Puna to Assist with Iselle Recovery Efforts

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced he will rejoin his team, who have remained on the ground in Puna, on Tuesday to assist with the recovery efforts, specifically focusing on federal funds, the mitigation of albizia trees, and disaster recovery.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele hep unload ice in Nanawale.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele help unload ice in Nanawale.

Schatz will meet with state and county officials and continue his collaboration with community members from Puna.

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

“I said on Friday night that my commitment to Puna’s recovery extends beyond any election or any election results, and I meant it,” Senator Schatz said. “This is going to take time and effort, and it won’t be easy, but I will continue to do everything that I can to be helpful.”

Training to Handle Anticipated Increase for Elevation Certificates Under a New Federal Law

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) will be conducting training on Elevation Certificates at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, Thursday January 30 in Building A at the Council Conference room.

Registration is online at https://2014‐ec‐kona.eventbrite.com

Elevation Certificates (ECs), is now required to determine a structure’s risk under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

Elevation Certificate

Registration begins at 8:00 AM.  Participants will be introduced to ECs, given examples of application applicable to different types of structures, and how to trouble shoot possible problems.  The workshop ends at 12:30 PM. Parking is free.

For questions about the workshop, please contact the State National Flood Insurance Program, Department of Land and Natural (DLNR) Resources Engineering Division toll free at 974-4000 extension 70281 or 70254.

ECs can be downloaded on the County of Hawai‘i Public Works website at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pw-online-requests-permit-app/

 

FEMA Changing South Kona Floodplain – Questions and Answers for Residents

Why is FEMA changing the South Kona Floodplain?

The purpose of the Preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) is to identify changes to flood hazards in the South Kona district.  This area has undergone an increase in residential and agricultural development since 1977.

FEMA

There are two phases to the study. Phase 1 is for watercourses 13-20, in Hōnaunau, Keōkea and a small section of Kiilae affecting property owners with tax map keys 8-4-004, 8-4-006, 8-4-008, 8-4-011, 8-4-012, 8-4-014, and 8-4-015.  Residents along watercourses 1-12 and 21-25 in phase 2 will receive notices before the end of summer.

The preliminary FIS analyzed the 10% (10-year), 4% (25-year), 2% (50-year), 1% (100-year), and 0.2% (500-year) chance of flooding events, the floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) boundaries, and the Base Flood Elevations (BFE).

The benefits of an updated Flood Insurance Study are:

  • Hydraulic modeling, hydrologic methodology and topographic maps are updated.
  • A 100-year base flood elevation (BEF) established.
  • Community planners and local officials gain an understanding of the flood hazards and public health and safety affecting the community and,
  • Home and business owners can make informed decisions about their insurance policy.

How does the new map affect me financially?

For structures in a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), flood insurance is mandatory for buildings with mortgages back by the federal government.  For structures in Zone X (outside of the SFHA), flood insurance is suggested but is not mandatory.

FEMA is offering a “Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension,” a lower cost insurance rate for properties recently mapped into high-risk flood zones on or after October 1, 2008.  Http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/prp_extension_information.jsp

What is the next step?

FEMA will begin its statutory 90-day appeal period allowing property owners the opportunity to submit appeals and protests on the preliminary FIS.  FEMA will issue in the local newspapers an advisory of its statutory 90-day appeal period with contact information for submitting appeals.

After the review and appeal periods have ended and all comments/appeals addressed, FEMA will begin final preparation of the FIS, which will both become effective six months later. For detailed information on appeals process, cut and paste in the browser http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=4935

How do I submit an appeal or protest?

A property owner must submit technical and/or scientific data to file a protest regarding the accuracy of the flood study for their property to the County of Hawai‘i Floodplain Manager, Frank DeMarco fdemarco@hawaiicounty.gov  Supporting data will be reviewed if it constitutes a valid appeal or protest. 

If a property owner does not agree with FEMA’s Letter of Map Revision (LOMR)

Owners who believe their property is not in the Special Flood Hazard Area, (SFHA) may contact the County of Hawai‘i Floodplain Manager, Frank DeMarco (961-8042) or Carter Romero (961-8943) cromero@hawaiicounty.gov at the Department of Public Works Engineers’ division in Hilo, weekdays, from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Maps are also available Engineers’ office at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

FEMA offers an online tutorial to walk the applicant through the stages to have a property removed from a SFHA. Click on http://www.fema.gov/online-tutorials/letter-map-amendment/letter-map-revision-f-tutorial-series-choose-tutorial

Ten (10) percent discount on flood insurance

In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act, which created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to reduce future flood losses through local floodplain management and provide protection for property owners against potential losses through flood insurance.  The County of Hawai‘i is responsible for submitting revised flood hazard data to FEMA to revise the FIS, and Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs).  The NFIP map revisions allow risk premium insurance rates and flood plain management requirements based on current data.

The County of Hawai‘i also participates in the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) enabling people with property in designated flood zones to purchase flood insurance at a lower rate.  The County of Hawai‘i has a class 8 rating, offering a ten (10) discount on flood insurance premiums to these property owners.

The CRS objective is to reward communities that do more than meet the minimum NFIP requirements to help citizens prevent or reduce flood losses.  CRS does this by providing incentives to communities to initiate flood protection activities through floodplain management and public outreach.

Updated Flood Maps May Change Insurance Rates for Hawai‘i County Residents

Media Release:

The Department of Public Works is holding public meetings regarding updated flood maps. The purpose of these meetings are to give everyone a chance to thoroughly review and comment on the proposed Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map before it becomes official. Once the map becomes official it may affect insurance rates and it will be difficult and expensive to change. Coastal areas especially near Honaunau, Ho’okena, Ki’ilae, and Miloli’i should be aware that their insurance rates may increase. Pa’auau Stream near Pahala will also be discussed at these meetings.

Please help spread the word and/or attend one of these public meetings:

  • August 9, Aupuni Conference Center, Hilo 1:00 – 4:00PM
  • August 10, West Hawaii Civic Center, Kailua-Kona 2:00 – 5:00PM

Here is the 7/28/2011 Press Release from the Department of Public Works:

Click for Post-Preliminary Processing - Digital Flood Map

“Updated Flood Maps May Change Insurance Rates for Hawai‘i County Residents 

The revised preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) for Hawai‘i County will be released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and available for public comment during open houses on August 9 and 10.

Results of the Kona and Puna Flood Studies are not included in the preliminary digital flood insurance rate maps for Hawai‘i County.

To ensure affected property owners understand the preliminary DFIRM map change process, open houses will be held on August 9 at the Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., and on August 10 at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center, Building A, Conference Room A, in Kailua-Kona from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Personnel from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), FEMA, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Hawai‘i County, Department of Public Works will be available to answer questions.

Also taking place at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center on August 10, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., will be a workshop on the topic of Substantial Improvement / Substantial Damage.  This workshop provides a valuable training opportunity for engineers, architects, planners, and community officials.

If you require additional auxiliary aids and services for effective communications at these meetings, please contact Department of Public Works at 961-8321 as soon as possible, but no later than five days prior to the meeting date, to arrange for accommodations.

Link to FEMA Post-Preliminary Process Digital Flood Map Fact Sheet.

P.S.  The plan is to link the 2011 maps on to the flood hazard assessment tool, if not we will see it on maps for the 1st time at the open houses.”