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More than 250 homes damaged in storm, residents report

August 21, 2014 - 5:56am

A total of 260 Hawaii Island residents reported sustaining damage to their homes as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

During a four-day period last week, residents in Puna were asked to visit Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers in Pahoa and Mountain View to report their experiences, as well as to pose questions to representatives of various government agencies offering help as they work to recover and rebuild following the high winds and rain that felled trees, utility poles and lines, as well as sent storm surge roiling through a Kapoho neighborhood, knocking some homes off their foundations.

A data sheet supplied Wednesday afternoon by the state Emergency Management Agency showed that 1,419 people attended those centers, and 1,059 filled out intake forms. Among those who filled out the forms, 643 reported experiencing impacts from the storm, including power outages, debris and food spoilage.

Emergency management officials were wary of releasing exact figures gathered by county and state workers concerning how many homes have been destroyed and other degrees of damage until the information has been supplied to the governor and he has had a chance to decide whether to request disaster assistance from the federal government, according to Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.

“This information (on the data sheet) was all self-reported,” she said. “The validated damage assessments (performed by Hawaii County) will be part of the governor’s request (to the president of the United States) for a (major disaster) declaration. … The request should be coming out fairly shortly, and it should include that information.”

She added that the types of damage covered under the homeowner assistance program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency must essentially make the structures “unlivable,” including damage to foundations, catchment tanks and electrical systems.

“Damage to things like bedding and clothes would not be covered,” she said.

Among the additional anecdotal evidence of storm damage reported by homeowners at the recovery centers was damage to cesspools and septic tanks, computers, driveways, fences and rock walls, furniture, home interiors, hydroponics, personal electronics, personal vehicles, solar panels, steps, structures such as carports, barns and sheds, windows, roofs and water pumps.

Email Colin M. Stewart at

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