REPORT FROM MAUI COUNTY– The County of Maui Department of Planning today announced that beginning this month the County of Maui will take the lead on a grant-funded project to develop guidelines and protocols for reconstruction after natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis.

The two-year federal grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program begins this month and totals $178,000; funds were secured in partnership with theUniversity of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program.

“We are well aware of the threats we face from coastal storms and hazards, yet Maui is now the very first County in the state of Hawaii – and among very few municipalities in the country – to work on developing rules governing post-disaster development, permitting and construction,” Mayor Alan Arakawa said. “The last thing anyone needs after their home is damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster is a permitting process that fails to take emergency conditions into account. Residents and homeowners should not be penalized or delayed when it comes to repairing or rebuilding after such events.”

The grant proposal noted three objectives: to raise awareness and support for pre-disaster planning; to involve remote and under-served communities; and to develop reconstruction guidelines and protocols for response and recovery. Anticipated outcomes include a “Reconstruction Guidelines and Protocols” document, a streamlined approval process for post-disaster reconstruction, and improved capacity to protect coastal resources after major coastal storm events.

Funds will be used for inter-island travel (including travel to Kauai to meet with individuals involved with the recovery efforts after Hurricanes Iwa and Iniki, as well as to Molokai and Lanai), outreach efforts, community meetings, research and consulting services. There will be opportunities for public participation.

“This study will update our County permit process to make it more responsive to natural disaster situations,” said Planning Director Will Spence. “I’d like to thank UH Sea Grant for their support of this important County initiative.”

The project is being spearheaded by local UH Sea Grant Extension Agent Tara Owens and lead Shoreline Planner Jim Buika. Additionally, a working group has already been assembled to include the County’s Department of Public Works and Civil Defense Agency.

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