Quake money going unclaimed
State Civil Defense urges homeowners to contact FEMA
State and federal agencies have supplied nearly $13 million in grants and funds to assist those affected by the Oct. 15 Kiholo earthquake.
But many others, including some Big Island homeowners, may be missing out on federal funds by not registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While more than 2,700 families and individuals have applied for assistance from FEMA, the state and the U.S. Small Business Administration, officials said many others have not.
Low-interest loans, as low as 3.5 percent, and grants could be available, said Dave Curtis, state Civil Defense spokesman.
"We are urging people to please register," Curtis said. "They might be eligible for quite a bit of money."
Those not eligible for federal funds could still receive money from the state, he added.
There are three state and federal disaster relief centers still open on the Big Island. But two of those are due to close by tomorrow.
Today is the last day to register at the Naalehu mobile disaster center at the Naalehu Park and Community Center. It is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In North Kohala, at the Senior Center on Akoni Pule Highway in Kapaau, the disaster center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until tomorrow. The Waimea Disaster Relief Center, at the Parker Ranch Shopping Center on Lindsey Road, will be open through Tuesday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Sunday, when it is open from noon to 4 p.m.
Those affected can also register by calling, toll-free, (800) 621- FEMA (3362) or, for those hearing and speech impaired, (800) 462-7585, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Big Island residents can also register at www.fema.gov, officials said.
According to a news release, more than $6 million in housing assistance has been provided. An additional $6.7 million in low-interest disaster loans have been approved by the Small Business Administration for 175 homeowners, renters and business owners. Some $21,600 in grants has been approved for 75 applicants to cover the costs of other needs, such as personal property, transportation, and medical and dental expenses.
Big Island Civil Defense officials said they have "red-tagged" about 55 homes, declaring them uninhabitable, with another 100 or so yellow tags for homes that have structural problems in some places but are habitable in others, said Neil Gyotuku, plans and operations officer with Hawaii County Civil Defense.
Much of the work "is in the hands of FEMA," Gyotuku added, but Civil Defense officials are still checking the safety of a few homes as calls trickle in.
Curtis, with state Civil Defense, urged homeowners to ignore rumors that registering with FEMA could cause a house to be condemned. FEMA strictly handles monetary estimates and does not condemn homes, he added.
On Maui, the Hawaii National Guard continued to supply 500 families in Kaupo cut off due to a bridge collapse, Curtis added.