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Sunday, August 13, 2023
August 13, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:07 PM :: 6636 Views

FEMA: 2,207 Structures Damaged in Lahaina Fire

Lahaina Search only 3% Done--death toll stands at 93

Lahaina Fires: Red Cross and FEMA Where to Volunteer, How to get Help

A Different Kind of Emergency in Government

Land and Power: Maui rebuild ‘huge’ for tourism, gov, mayor

Borreca: … The administration of Josh Green’s biggest challenge has been set: How the governor administers the rebuilding of not just Lahaina, but Maui in the light of the devastating fire, will be a big measure of his success or failure in office….

Next is what will fill in for an entire functioning town gone in one night….

As Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said in a news conference last week: “There is nothing there. From shore to the highway. There is nothing to go back to.”

What happens now is unclear from the early comments from both Bissen and Green….

“We will rebuild,” said Green. “We are going to need to house thousands of people.”…

Hawaii economist Paul Brewbaker told me the burning of Lahaina was similar to the destruction on Kauai when it was hit by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

“Not in terms of loss of life, but in terms of shutting down an economy,” Brewbaker said. “Lahaina or West Maui generally are one important part — half or more — of Maui tourism.”…

Brewbaker … added Kauai was able to rebuild and come back so that portions of the island are considered definitions of Hawaii tourism….

Brewbaker urged: Now is the time to get out of the box.

“When we count up the numbers of houses and lodging units that were destroyed in West Maui and elsewhere, the governor and the mayor need to say: ‘We’re going to let people replace every one of those structures today.’”

Brewbaker says the way forward is to go for it.

“Maui’s going to take a big hit, but the sooner it rebuilds the sooner it recovers,” he said. “And starting from scratch, all over, isn’t a bad way to build a future.”…

MEANWHILE: Green’s Housing Emergency Panel ‘hard-to-hear’--activist excluded from meeting

read … Maui rebuild huge for residents, tourism, gov, mayor

Government Red Tape and Insurance delays will push out Lahaina residents--rebuilt Maui town will slip into the hands of affluent outsiders

AP: … any homes rebuilt there will be targeted at affluent outsiders seeking a tropical haven. That would turbo-charge what is already one of Hawaii’s gravest and biggest challenges: the exodus and displacement of Native Hawaiian and local-born residents who can no longer afford to live in their homeland….

The median price of a Maui home is $1.2 million, putting a single-family home out of reach for the typical wage earner. It’s not possible for many to even buy a condo, with the median condo price at $850,000….

Residents with insurance or government aid may get funds to rebuild, but those payouts could take years and recipients may find it won’t be enough to pay rent or buy an alternate property in the interim….

Many on Kauai spent years fighting for insurance payments after Hurricane Iniki slammed into the island in 1992 and said the same could happen in Lahaina, Higa said.

“As they deal with this — the frustration of fighting insurance companies or fighting (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) — many of them may well leave because there are no other options,” Higa said….

TS: Hawaii wildfire survivors are already getting calls from opportunistic land developers - TheStreet

read … Lahaina residents worry a rebuilt Maui town could slip into the hands of affluent outsiders

Looters in Lahaina: Medical Center Robbed

MN: … Some have reported that there has been looting in the burned-down town as well.

Eddy Garcia, a born-and-raised Lahaina resident, said he went to Lahaina town to survey the damage Wednesday when he saw people looting. He said he chased away someone apparently trying to rob the Maui Medical Center and saw another person who appeared to be stealing something out of a house or foundation.

Jeff Hickman, director of public affairs for the state Department of Defense, said the National Guard is “plussing up a large amount of Guardsmen and by early next week, there will probably be over 100 on Maui, a lot of them doing the staff support,” which includes operations and logistics.

Maui County would have to request the National Guard if it needs traffic and security control assistance. The National Guard said on Friday that there was no current request from the county for this type of assistance….

BI: Maui fire survivors describe nighttime looting and rerouted supply drops as they say local leadership botches emergency response | Business Insider India

read … Brief reopening of Lahaina spurs scramble for access

Lawyers in Lahaina: HECO Bankruptcy Coming as litigators look for lucrative evidence against power lines

B: … While the cause of the deadly Maui fires remains under investigation, lawyers are sending experts to the island to look into utility power lines as being a possible source of ignition.

Attorneys with Watts Guerra, Singleton Schreiber, and Frantz Law Group said they have been collecting evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses and reviewing reports that indicate that damaged power infrastructure owned by Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. created the spark for the flames.

“All evidence — videos, witness accounts, burn progression, and utility equipment remaining — points to Hawaiian Electric’s equipment being the ignition source of the fire that devastated Lahaina,” said Mikal Watts, a Puerto Rico-based plaintiffs lawyer at Watts Guerra who has won millions of dollars in settlements in other wildfire cases, including against California utility giant PG&E Corp….

Michael Wara, a wildfire expert who is director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University, said there is “no question” that the utility should have cut power to reduce wildfire risk with the forecast of gusty winds. The controversial practice is now used by utilities in California, Nevada and Oregon after power lines sparked catastrophic fires during dry windstorms in California….

Plaintiff lawyers often dispatch representatives of their offices to sign up clients in the wake of wildfire disasters. The plaintiff law firms now working in Maui represented fire victims in a $13.5 billion settlement with PG&E, which was driven into bankruptcy in 2019 after its utility equipment sparked some of the deadliest wildfires in California history….

HECI’s market capitalization is $3.5 billion….

SA: Attorneys aim to make Hawaiian Electric pay for Maui disaster | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)  The other case was filed in Maui Circuit Court on behalf of Maui resident Nova Burnes....

COMPLAINT: 2023-08-12 Lahaina Fire Complaint (Final).docx

read … In search for cause of Hawaii fires, lawyers probe power lines

Lahaina fire death toll climbs to 93

SA: …As the group reached the Old Lahaina Center, teams of cadaver dogs were seen performing their grim task of searching for human remains, drawing attention to the scope of the tragedy. So far 93 people — 13 more than previously announced — are known to have died in the wildfire that erupted Tuesday, fanned by 60 mph winds.

Already the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century, officials have warned the death toll is likely to rise substantially. Newly released maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pacific Disaster Center show an estimated 2,207 structures — 86% of them residences — were damaged or destroyed in the wind-whipped inferno, with losses approaching $6 billion.

Speaking at a news conference later in the day in Wailuku, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said two of the victims have been identified, but their names were not released. Hawaii News Now on Saturday reported the names of four of the dead: Faaso and Malui Fonua Tone, their daughter Salote Takafua and her son, Tony Takafua, who were found in a burned-out car near their home Thursday.

Officials said the recovered remains so far were mostly from outside of the building rubble, and mainly in burned-out cars. Witnesses have reported seeing numerous fire victims in their vehicles and on the streets, overtaken as they tried to flee from the flames and intense heat.

Pelletier said only 3% of the impacted areas had been covered by cadaver dogs from FEMA’s Urban Search & Rescue Teams, and that 12 more dogs were on their way to Maui to expedite the process of locating human remains. He also encouraged the family members of those who may have perished to submit a DNA sample to assist in identification….

read … Lahaina fire death toll climbs to 93

CNHA fund exceeds $1M for Maui relief

SA: … The Maui relief fund started Wednesday by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Alaka‘ina Foundation Family of Companies and Kako‘o Hale­akala has quickly exceeded its goals.

The Kako‘o Maui Match Donation Fund started with the goal to match up to $100,000 in donations. That limit has since increased to $1.5 million after donations continued to flood in.

Among the hundreds of donors are several organizations from the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association that came to a total of $200,000, according to an NHOA news release….

The Alaka‘ina Foundation was among the NHOA organizations that contributed $50,000 along with the Nakupuna Foundation, Hui Huliau and The Hawai‘i Pacific Foundation….

As of Friday afternoon, donations for the campaign had reached $1.1 million. Other organizations that have contributed include Kamehameha Schools, The Queens Health System, Hawaiian Native Corporation, Alaska Airlines, Lunalilo Trust, Lili‘uokalani Trust, Arcadia, Elemental Excelerator, Hawaiian Native Corporation, Helumoa, HI Finest, Kahuli Leo Le‘a, Kako‘o Haleakala, King Lunalilo Trust, Manaola Hawaii, Pelatron, Regent Craft and Warrior Printing, according to the donation website….

Feds Target Hawaiian Native Corporation: Prominent Native Hawaiian Defense Contractor Is Part Of New Federal Criminal Probe

read … Native Hawaiian fund exceeds $1M for Maui relief

When ‘affordable’ housing more resembles hard time

Shapiro: … only 14 of the 84 “affordable” units, mostly studios smaller than 300 square feet costing $270,000 to $515,000, have sold.

It’s because of self- defeating city resale restrictions and weak attempts to negotiate better terms with developers for more attractive affordable housing in exchange for the generous regulatory relief.

Buyers of Sky’s affordable units have no access to the building’s pool and other amenities, and must pay $38,000 extra for parking. They’re restricted from selling for up to 30 years.

If you can’t sell, you don’t really own. You’re excluded from the American dream of moving up to bigger and better housing as your circumstances improve. We’re better off focusing on price-controlled rental housing.

CITY AND STATE GIVEAWAY deals with developers in Ala Moana, Kakaako and elsewhere have done little to deter the exodus of local people — many of them essential workers — for better housing and job opportunities.

The “lucky we live Hawaii” mantra is said with less conviction as our problems fester while politicians rake in campaign cash from the developers they take care of — and reward themselves further with 64% pay raises….

read …  When ‘affordable’ housing more resembles hard time

Honolulu Council Approves Bill 4 Driving Up Cost of Housing Construction to Subsidize E-Cars, Solar Industry

SA: … Bill 4, as approved Wednesday, is intended to lower energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy resilience of new construction as a result of climate change. In addition, the bill lays the groundwork for solar and electric vehicle readiness in new construction.

For electric vehicles, the bill requires that all newly created parking stalls for newly constructed residential multi-unit and commercial buildings must feature electric vehicle chargers.

Under the bill, any newly constructed parking lots for residential multi-use buildings that add eight or more new parking stalls must have electric vehicle chargers ready for at least 25% of those stalls. Likewise, newly constructed parking for commercial buildings that adds 12 or more new stalls must have electric vehicle chargers for at least 25% of those stalls….

Among them, affordable housing units offered for sale need only provide 20% of electric vehicle chargers to the total number of stalls. Conversely, affordable housing units offered for rent do not need to provide any electric vehicle chargers.

Meanwhile, other building code updates will require new homes to include plans for solar photovoltaic equipment, including installation of conduit and reserve panel capacity for future PV installation….

read … Honolulu City Council OKs energy-saving building code changes | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

Lahaina Fire News: 

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