Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Deadline nears for Big Island flood relief

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawaii — Federal officials have announced that 5 p.m. Monday is the deadline to register for help in dealing with damage from November’s floods.

More than 1,700 people have sought help since the Nov. 1-2 floods swamped Hilo and Kau.

The disaster center at Hoolulu Park shut down Dec. 16, but applications have been taken through a toll-free line in Texas at 1-800-462-9029 since then. That will stop at 5 p.m. Monday.

Damage estimates have reached $60 million following last week’s disclosure that it will cost state highways division about $30 million for road repair and replacing four bridges on the island’s main Belt Highway near Pahala.

Federal officials are concerned about the mental health of Big Island residents and this week announced that crisis counseling will be available for the next 60 days.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided a $63,000 grant to allow the state Health Department to give advice on how to cope with the emotional stress of the losses.

"Our aim is to assist people in regaining control of their lives," said federal coordinating officer William L. Carwile. Victims are urged to call the Flood Relief Counseling Program at (808) 896-9047 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The federal government has paid out more than $9.5 million to help Hawaii County with stream clearance and road repairs, $4.3 million in Small Business Administration low-interest loans and more than $2 million to victims needing housing assistance.

Work on the Kau repairs has not started, but the county has a private contractor on a fast-track program to build a bridge on Komohana Street so that one-way traffic can resume along the crosstown artery as soon as possible.

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