Ka Wai Ola

Residents of Hawai‘i County who have felt the ground rumble beneath their homes as a result of the ongoing Kīlauea eruptions and earthquakes are encouraged to look carefully for damage.

Residents should check their property periodically and document any damage. Look for:

  • damages to foundations, piers and pillars
  • cracks in walls;
  • doors that don’t close easily; and
  • unexplained debris near wall and floor joints.

Residents with losses from the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes that began May 3 are encouraged to register for disaster assistance from FEMA. They may do so:

  • at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in the Kea‘au High School Gymnasium, 16-725 Kea‘au-Pāhoa Rd., Kea‘au.
  • online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.

Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Until further notice, the DRC is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Low interest disaster assistance loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available to help repair or replace disaster damaged property. To apply for SBA low-interest disaster loans, business owners, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters can visit the disaster recovery center for one-on-one assistance or apply online using SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Photo: Wooden Interconnect Example
Puna residents can register for disaster assistance from
FEMA at the Disaster Recovery Center in the Kea‘au
High School Gymnasium. – Photo: Courtesy of FEMA

In addition, applicants can get more information on SBA disaster assistance by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955, by visiting www.sba.gov/disaster, or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

Residents who have already registered with FEMA and have had a home inspection to verify damage are also encouraged to look for new damage resulting from the ongoing earthquakes. If additional damage is found, residents may appeal FEMA’s decision on eligibility and assistance amount and request their property be inspected again.

Advice on building back stronger available

FEMA recovery experts at the Kea‘au Disaster Recovery Center are offering residents advice on building back stronger from disaster damage and tips on retrofitting to protect against earthquake damage.

Whether from wind, fire, flooding or earthquake, FEMA specialists can offer advice on how to rebuild and how to prepare for multiple hazards.

With a focus on the recent earthquake activity, a “continuous load path” model is on display at the desk of FEMA’s mitigation specialists in the Kea‘au DRC, located at Kea‘au High School Gymnasium, 16-725 Kea‘au-Pāhoa Rd.

The model, a wood frame construction, shows how residents can provide high levels of security for hazard events such as earthquakes. It displays a relatively inexpensive way to reinforce joints with metal connectors and make the house more resistant to damage from the elements, particularly where the rafter meets the wall, according to David Kulberg, a FEMA hazard mitigation specialist.

Force is transferred to the rafter at the top of the wall that is typically the weakest connection in the house. The forces continues down through the wall to the bottom plate and into the foundation, which completes the continuous load path. The metal connectors reinforce every joint.

“Hawai‘i is subject to all hazards and we encourage residents to rebuild to protect their family and property from the effects of potentially devastating losses,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Bern Ruiz, who is directing the federal recovery effort here. “Our mitigation experts at the DRC have tips for building back stronger for everyone from the do-it-yourselfer to the professional contractor.”

Visit www.fema.gov/protect-your-property for more information about how to protect your property or business from disaster and get the specifics on how to:

  • Protect your business from all natural hazards
  • Protect your property from an earthquake
  • Protect your property from fire
  • Protect your property from flooding
  • Protect your property from high winds.