The State of Hawaii's request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle was denied on Thursdsay 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.
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."
Agency spokesman Casey De Shong says officials identified 28 homes with major damages and 11 that were destroyed. He says 20 percent of those homes had insurance.
Approving Hawaii's request would have provided residents with help for uninsured damage such as home repair funds, low-interest loans and rental assistance.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige says the state is disappointed but it's still possible FEMA will help with public infrastructure damage.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued a joint statement:
"The state and the County of Hawaii are working together to gather sufficient additional information, including socio-economic data, to justify a successful appeal. In the meantime, county, state and other federal agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, are providing support under their own authorities. The state also remains eligible for a declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will enable qualified individuals and businesses to receive low-interest loans for repairs."
Gov. Abercrombie has 30 days to appeal FEMA's decision. The Governor's Office reviewing the rejection letter and considering its options on how to move forward.
Iselle made landfall over the Big Island's isolated and rural Puna region nearly three weeks ago.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, 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
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.