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Big Island’s Kilauea eruption recovery manager questioned

HILO (AP) — County of Hawaii officials have questioned and criticized an official about strategies for public recovery from damage caused by the Kilauea volcano eruption.

Diane Ley made a presentation to the County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday highlighting interim recovery strategies, priorities, pilot initiatives, and timelines, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

Ley is the county research and development director and Kilauea recovery manager.

The Big Island eruption that began in May 2018 destroyed more than 700 homes in Lower Puna.

The recovery timeline is driven by the need to plan for action but also by response to a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. The interim recovery strategy is a work in progress, Ley said.

“It’s a component of the overall disaster recovery framework, and we are working closely with a number of council members to implement revisions that have been suggested before we introduce that to the council,” she said.

A second round of requests for proposals for case management services closed in late July, Ley said.

“So we’re hopeful that within a few weeks, we will have a contract in place and a team actually working on case management,” she said.

Restoration work on Highway 132 is progressing, with a completion goal of early October, Ley said.

Committee member Ashley Kierkiewicz raised concerns about the timing and length of impact surveys and criticized postcards mailed to property owners. Kierkie-wicz said she does not want the recovery to be “another project that’s managed.”

“This is a huge opportunity that I don’t want squandered,” Kierkiewicz said.