Categorized | Featured, News, Tsunami

Tsunami 2011: Residents, business owners finding help

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Nearly three dozen people stopped by the state Civil Defense Disaster Assistance and Recovery Center on Tuesday, looking for information and help in the wake of the March 11 tsunami.

The State Civil Defense is coordinating with state and county agencies to offer their assistance at the Old Kona Airport Event Pavilion. The center also will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, March 30.

Most people who dropped in Tuesday reported damage or losses to their boats, rental properties, business inventories and personal belongings, said Kevin Richards, State Civil Defense earthquake and tsunami program planner.

Richards said he had talked to about 30 people, which he admits was a higher number than he had predicted, but was not totally beyond expectation.

“This was just ‘what can we do to help?’ We took everybody we thought could help or be of some service and brought them all into one place. It’s kind of a one-stop shop here,” he said.

“We don’t have a lot of money,” he said. “The state doesn’t have money and neither does the county, but we have services.”

Richards said Big Island residents have some experience with natural disasters and are well prepared for any situation.

“The resilience is there, certainly, and the recovery will be there too,” he said.

Richards said he was pleased the U.S. Small Business Administration issued a disaster declaration Tuesday, offering low-interest loans and support.

“That good,” he said. “That means they will be coming to town with a small pot of money.”

State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeria said the two-day outreach center was the first on the Big Island since the October 2006 earthquakes.

“This make it easy for folks to come in and talk face-to-face with someone,” he said. “That can really go a long way and help a lot.”

Teixeria said he has applied for extra help in three areas: disaster unemployment assistance; crisis counseling; and legal services.

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Deputy Wally Lau and county Civil Defense chief Quince Mento were on hand Tuesday to thank the staff and agency representatives.

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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