Hawaii will get an additional $67 million to help recover from the spate of natural disasters that afflicted the Aloha State in 2018, federal officials announced Monday.

That pushes the total state and federal funding dedicated to Kilauea eruption and Hurricane Lane recovery efforts — plus the heavy rains that deluged and destroyed parts of Kauai and east Oahu — to well over half a billion dollars.

Much of the federal share comes from a $1.7 billion disaster recovery package approved by Congress in 2018, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

“It’s a done deal,” he said Monday of the latest federal aid package. “It’s hard to say what is enough because communities are still struggling.”

Senator Brian Schatz in Honolulu Civil Beat office. 31 may 2017
Sen. Brian Schatz said the state will have to become more resilient to prepare for future disasters, as threats related to climate change increase. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Nonetheless, the $429 million in federal funds that Hawaii has now received for the 2018 disasters is an “enormous” amount for a relatively small island state and should go a long way toward its recovery, he added.

On the state level, Hawaii has also received more than $200 million to assist recovery efforts connected to the 2018 disasters.

In April 2018, a “precipitation bomb” dropped 50 inches of rain on Kauai, causing catastrophic flooding. In May, fierce eruptions from Hawaii Island’s Kilauea volcano spewed lava from new fissures across the Puna landscape, destroying hundreds of homes.

Then, in August, Hurricane Lane narrowly spared Hawaii’s densest and most populous island but inundated the surrounding islands, causing severe damage in some communities. The following month, Tropical Storm Olivia made landfall on Maui and Lanai.

Scientists warn that Hawaii will grow more vulnerable to hurricanes such as Lane in the coming decades as the Central Pacific Ocean’s waters warm due to climate change.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the costs of inaction as it comes to climate are enormous,” Schatz said Monday. “Every community is going to unfortunately experience climate disruption. Hawaii is no exception to that.”

Schatz said communities around the state need to discuss how to make the islands more resilient against such storms.

The $67 million announced Monday comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, according to a press release from Schatz’s office.

The funds will be distributed to disaster-impacted areas through the state and county governments, it added.

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