Hawaii County to receive $61M to repair roads damaged by lava

HILO (AP) — Hawaii County is expected to receive $61 million in federal funding to repair roads damaged by lava in the Kilauea eruption, but a restoration timeline has not been established.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency distribution announced last week will be paid to the county Department of Public Works, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The Kilauea eruption that began in May 2018 destroyed more than 700 homes and buried about 13 miles of public roads.

The funds will be used to restore six roads in the Big Island’s Puna region, officials said.

The money may also be used to repair other roads depending on the outcome of discussions between the county, FEMA and members of the Puna community.

The funds will not be distributed immediately but FEMA’s announcement is an obligation to reimburse the county up to $61 million for future projects.

The county is required to match 25 percent of the federal funding. The percentage is covered by no-interest loans approved by the state Legislature.

“The obligation of these funds is an important step in the recovery process, and the county is grateful for these resources that Hawaii’s congressional delegation supported us in securing,” Disaster Recovery Officer Doug Le said in a statement.

“Infrastructure remains a priority for members of the community, and we remain committed to ensuring that these funds are used to help Puna,” Le said.

Among the public roads buried in the eruption, only Highway 132 has been fully restored. The project’s funding was covered by the Federal Highway Administration.

The next priority of the Hawaii County Recovery Task Force is restoration of Pohoiki Road. A project timeline has not yet been finalized.