Categorized | Featured, Hurricane, News, Weather

Iselle: Updates for Aug. 18, 2014

UPDATED (4:54 PM on 8/18/2014)

More than 1,400 visit state Disaster Assistance & Recovery Centers in four days

HONOLULU – A total of 1,419 Hawaii County residents visited the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers (DARCs) organized, set up and ran by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), formerly known as State Civil Defense, from Aug. 14 to 15 at the Pahoa Community Center and from Aug. 16 to 17 at the Mountain View Gym.

At the DARCs, individuals were provided information on disaster-related services and encouraged to register their damage with the state. Agencies represented at the DARCs were:

State of Hawaii

  • State Department of Agriculture – Offered information on farming programs, commercial farm loans and emergency farm loans
  • State Department of Health – Offered mental health services, counseling, information from the Hawaii Family Guidance Center, food safety information, and hazardous materials and waste water reporting
  • State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs – Offered information on hurricane, homeowner, auto, renter’s and business insurance policies
  • State Department of Human Services – Offered information on SNAP replacement and food stamp programs, as well as offered applications for food stamps DHS will continue to assist Hawaii County residents at Nanawale Estates Community Center, Leilani Estates Community Center, and Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until Aug. 22.

Hawaii County

  • County Planning/Public Works – Offered road repair, building permits, damage assessment, dangerous tree assessment, and information on absentee owners
  • County Housing and Community Development – Offered emergency repairs, loans and partial grants for households, Section 8 wait listing, National Guard damage assessments, and other services
  • County Real Property Tax Office – Offered information on reduction of property tax and tax credit for damaged homes, as well as assistance in locating tax ID addresses
  • County Department of Environmental Management – Offered information on where to send batteries

Federal Agencies / Nonprofits / Other

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Offered commercial farm loans, agricultural disaster programs and emergency loans, assistance with tree replacement, and assistance to rural families through grant and loan programs for repair
  • Pacific Disaster Center – Offered assistance in locating addresses
  • Hawaii State Bar Association – Offered legal assistance
  • All Hands – Offered coordinated volunteer assistance with debris removal, removal of wet carpets, and minor repairs
  • American Red Cross – Continued to offer disaster assistance and distribution of meals and other items
  • Salvation Army – Offered emergency disaster services
  • Catholic Charities – Offered case work and other critical services
  • Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster – Provided support to survivors and coordinated volunteer services

For those who were unable to visit the DARCs, Hawaii County will continue to take damage reports at (808) 935-0031. Requests for volunteer help can be made at (808) 464-3175.

Hawaii residents with issues relating to sustained power outage are encouraged to call the HELCO help line at (808) 969-6666 or to visit the HELCO Customer Information Center at the Leilani Estates Community Center in lower Puna.

UPDATED (4:17 PM on 8/18/2014)

Hawaiian Telcom offers phone service at Nanawale Community Center and free WiFi at Pahoa Community Center

Hawaiian Telcom has set up a phone bank for Big Island residents to make free on-island calls at the Nanawale Community Center located at 14-855 Kehau Road, Pahoa. The center’s hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hawaiian Telcom has also set up free Wi-Fi access at the Pahoa Community Center at 15-2910 Kauhale Street, Pahoa. To take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, consumers should bring their own wireless devices, such as laptop computers, tablets and smartphones. Currently the center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The center’s phone number is 808-965-2704.

On Friday, Hawaiian Telcom announced that the company had set up phones and free Wi-Fi access at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center located at 15-458 Kahakai Street, Puna. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hawaiian Telcom crews continue working with Hawaiʻi Electric Light Co. (HELCO) and state and county officials to safely clear access ways and restore services to all customers as quickly as possible. As a reminder, for safety reasons, please do not touch or move downed lines, as it could be a power line and potentially dangerous. Fallen utility poles or cables and service issues can be reported to Hawaiian Telcom’s 24-Hour Service Center at 643-6111. The company thanks customers for their patience and understanding during this time.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Community Assistance Message

Power restoration update from Hawai‘i Electric Light

Hawaiian Electric workers get suited-up with safety gear before working on electrical lines in Hawaiian Beaches. Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric Companies

Hawaiian Electric workers get suited-up with safety gear before working on electrical lines in Hawaiian Beaches. Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric Companies

Hilo, Aug. 18, 2014, 12:00 p.m. – Hawai‘i Electric Light continues to make progress in restoring electric service to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. Service to an additional 400 customers was restored Sunday. Currently, an estimated 1,500 customers remain without power.

Significant progress has been made in: Hawaiian Acres, Hawaiian Beaches/Hawaiian Shores, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Seaview Estates, and Black Sands Beach. Pockets of customers within these areas may still be out of power. Customers in those areas who are still without power should report it by calling 969-6666.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews expect to continue making progress in the following areas: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Kapoho, Lanipuna Gardens, Tangerine Acres, and portions of upper Puna.

Some areas of focus today include:

  • Nanawele Estates – electrical line crews are working on the main power line that brings electric service to the subdivision. Tree trimming and construction crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Lanipuna Gardens – electrical line crews are working on repairs. Tree trimming and construction crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Tangerine Acres – electrical line crews are working on repairs. Tree trimming and construction crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Leilani Estates – electrical line crews have restored power along Leilani Boulevard and are now working on Kahukai Street and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.
  • Seaview Estates – electrical line crews are working on the main power line that brings service to the subdivision. Tree trimming crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees.
  • Kapoho – electrical line crews are working on the main power line along Kapoho Road to Kapoho Beach Lots.
  • Hawaiian Paradise Park – electrical line crews will be replacing poles on side streets within the subdivision and restoring power.

Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, estimates indicate it could approximately another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Customer Information Center in Puna

Hawai‘i Electric Light’s Customer Information Center was relocated on Aug. 16 to Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna, and will remain open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues. The center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches is closed.

Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station also will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there.

Background on restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

Gabbard Urges FEMA, Governor, President to Expedite Federal Aid

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) Monday released details on the next steps that must be taken to quickly and effectively bring federal aid to Puna residents on Hawaiʻi Island whose homes and property were damaged by Hurricane Iselle.

The congresswoman spent Friday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and employees of the Hawaiʻi County Office of Housing visiting people’s homes and meeting with residents, as FEMA assessed the cost of damages and gathered information for a detailed report that will be submitted to Governor Abercrombie. The governor will then be able to request federal aid from President Obama through a disaster declaration.

“I’m urging FEMA, Hawaiʻi County, the governor, and President Obama to expedite the process of declaring Iselle’s devastation a natural disaster so that the people of Puna can receive immediate help,” said Gabbard, whose congressional district includes all of Hawaiʻi Island. “I’ve met with residents who have lost everything, and though they’ve shown strength, resiliency, and compassion for their neighbors, many families in Puna are looking for federal assistance to start putting their lives back together after this overwhelming storm.”

FEMA assessments have been finalized except for a small category to be completed Monday. Although homes and residential area assessments are complete, the infrastructure damage evaluation will take another two to three more days.

The governor and his staff are working through all of the assessment details now and will request federal aid from President Obama when they’re confident they have all of the pertinent data; they expect to have a timeline by Monday evening.

On Friday, Gabbard was briefed by Hawaiʻi Army National Guard Colonel Moses Kaoiwi at Keaukaha Military Reserve’s Emergency Operations Center in Hilo. He showed an overview of the damage caused by Hurricane Iselle on Hawaiʻi Island, and they discussed the progress of relief efforts and plans to move forward.

Gabbard continues to work with federal, state, and county officials to ensure that every available resource is being utilized to expedite recovery efforts and provide the services, supplies, and tools that are needed to guarantee the safety, health, and wellbeing of all those affected by Hurricane Iselle.

The Disaster Assistance Recovery Centers (DARC) are still operating and federal, state, and local agencies are there to continue assisting people in need.

As of Monday morning, water service has been restored to all areas of Hawaiʻi Island affected by Iselle, while approximately 1,500 customers are still without electricity.

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