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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 13, 2006

Public facilities on O'ahu, Maui eligible for added help after quakes

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i State and federal authorities are opening new disaster-recoverycenters on the Big Island to try to reach more people who suffered property damage in the Oct. 15 earthquakes.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have also announced that an amendment to President Bush's disaster declaration in connection with the earthquakes has made O'ahu and Maui eligible for additional federal assistance to repair damage from the earthquakes to any public facilities such as schools and roads.

The federal government pays 75 percent of the repairs to public facilities, with the state or counties picking up the tab for the remainder.

The new disaster-recovery centers will open in Honoka'a today and tomorrow, in the Honoka'a Gym Sports Complex at 45-541 Lehua Street; and in Na'alehu on Thursday and Friday, in a mobile unit to be parked at the Na'alehu Park and Community Center.

"The changes reflect our effort to ensure that everyone who suffered damage from the Oct. 15 Kiholo earthquake has an opportunity to take advantage of the services offered at the DRCs," said Ed Teixeira, state coordinating officer. "Visiting a DRC is an important way for folks to learn about programs that can assist them in obtaining grants and low-interest loans that may be available."

Existing centers in the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa and at the Clem Akina Park in Hilo will remain open through Wednesday; a center at the Parker Ranch Shopping Center in Waimea will remain open through Nov. 21; and another at the Senior Center in Kapa'au will remain open through Saturday.

Hawai'i residents who suffered losses or damages from the earthquakes can follow up on their registrations at any of the six disaster relief centers.

People affected by the disaster are urged to register for assistance by first calling, toll-free, (800) 621-FEMA (3362); or (800) 462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired; from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hawai'i residents also can register online at www.fema.gov.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.