Officials To Meet Hawaiʻi Island Residents Denied Volcano Relief

Jul 24, 2019

HONOLULU — Federal officials are expected to meet with Kīlauea disaster aid recipients who have been told to return the relief funds, a report said.

Federal Emergency Management and Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency officials will discuss cases on the Big Island Aug. 5-9, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

FEMA sent letters in June to dozens of victims of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption saying they were ineligible for federal disaster relief payments. The letters asked recipients to return payments that had already been distributed.

The agencies will interview individual applicants at the Keaʻau Armory who have appealed the requests for full or partial recoupment, Hawaiʻi emergency officials announced Tuesday.

Interviews are required for individuals who wish to appeal the government's recoupment requests and must be held within the time frame outlined in the letters, FEMA said.

FEMA is required to review assistance payments following a disaster. A Kīlauea eruption review identified a small number of recipients who were not eligible, officials said.

Federal law requires FEMA to seek the return of misdirected aid, officials said.

Potential reasons for ineligibility can include duplication of benefits, assistance mistakenly provided, misuse of funds, and fraud, officials said.

Assistance specialists at the August meetings are expected to explain eligibility decisions and collect documentation that may assist in the clearing debts of eruption survivors. The officials will also resolve issues such as proof of occupancy.

State representatives may attend the interviews with permission from the applicants.