Big Island to request $550M for volcano disaster recovery

HILO (AP) — Big Island Mayor Harry Kim is planning to ask the state Legislature for $550 million for disaster recovery following the effects of the Kilauea volcano eruption.

Kim said he discussed a conceptual plan with Gov. David Ige last week, and Hawaii County officials are preparing a package for the special legislative session, which has not yet been scheduled, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

Kim’s administration has asked the county council to provide feedback on the legislative package by next week and consider a joint resolution on it. The administration declined to release the plan until it’s sent to legislative leaders this week.

The three months of lava flows and earthquakes following the May eruption contributed to the delay of the formation of a detailed plan. The plan is needed before the state Legislature will meet to consider funding.

The island has received assistance from the federal Emergency Management Agency and about $12 million in emergency funding from the state, but that money can only be used for immediate emergency response needs.

The island needs new roads, housing and parks lost from the lava flows, as well as work in rebuilding the agriculture and tourism industries, State Sen. Russell Ruderman said, whose district covers an affected area. The county government should not downplay what the island needs, he said.