FEMA, Federal Partners Continue to Provide Critical Aid to Hawaii Wildfire Response and Recovery Efforts

Release Date Release Number
Release Date:
August 16, 2023

WASHINGTON -- FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will provide Hawaii response updates at the White House press briefing today, as first responders and search and rescue teams continue working in the devastated areas on Maui. To date, FEMA has approved more than $2.3 million in assistance to 1,331 households, including more than $798,000 in initial rental assistance, to help survivors jumpstart their recovery.

  • More than 4,400 survivors have registered for federal assistance and may be eligible for immediate resources such as hotel rooms or financial assistance. Survivors who have not yet registered can do so 24 hours a day by calling 800-621-3362, by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by using the FEMA App. If you use a relay service, such as video relay (VRS), captioned telephone or other service, give FEMA the number for that service.
  • After you register with FEMA, you may be approved for a one-time immediate payment of $700 for Critical Needs Assistance, one of several types of federal assistance survivors may be eligible to receive. Examples of other types of assistance include help with a temporary place to stay, funding home repairs and emergency needs that insurance and other financial assistance sources may not cover. 
  • Later today, field teams in Hawaii will open a joint disaster recovery center where survivors can speak face-to-face with FEMA specialists, get in touch with voluntary organizations and have access to other federal and state resources. 
  • FEMA is working closely with state, county and federal partners to aid active response efforts and to help survivors jumpstart their recovery. More than 190 search and rescue team members and 420 FEMA personnel are deployed to assist Hawaii residents in their greatest time of need, including 98 Disaster Survivor Assistance staff to help survivors register for assistance.
  • FEMA is committed to ensuring that disaster assistance is provided equitably, without discrimination on the grounds of to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. Any member of the public may contact the FEMA Civil Rights Office if they have a complaint of discrimination.  FEMA’s Civil Rights Office can be contacted by emailing FEMA-CivilRightsOffice@fema.dhs.gov or calling 833-285-7448. Multilingual operators are available. 
  • Hawaii Gov. Josh Green and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation launched the Hawaii Fire Relief Housing program aimed at connecting Maui residents affected by the wildfires with property owners with vacant housing. Find program application forms on HHFDC’s website. This program is in addition to FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, which allows survivors to shelter in pre-identified hotels or motels for a limited amount of time as they develop their housing plan. FEMA pays for these hotel rooms so there is no out of pocket expense for survivors.

Additional Federal, State and Voluntary Actions

  • Maui County government officials are distributing food, water and other supplies at two Lahaina locations: Gateway Center at 325 Keawe St. and Napili Plaza at 5095 Napilihau St. The Maui Humane Society has veterinarians and pet supplies starting at noon at both locations. 
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has more than 30 staff on the ground in Hawaii and is phasing in more staff. Survivors and businesses who register for FEMA assistance, will also be eligible for low-interest disaster loans. To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must contact FEMA first. 
    • Information and details on the location of future business recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.
  • American Red Cross and Maui County continue to staff and support eight shelters where food, water, hygiene kits and other essential resources are provided to survivors who are unable to return home. FEMA survivor assistance specialists are located at the shelters helping people register for federal assistance. Those affected by the fires may visit a Red Cross shelter to get a hot meal, charge their phone and access other essential support.
  • More than 270 Red Cross staff are working with partners to ensure people receive help as quickly as possible and has distributed more than 25,000 meals and snacks to survivors and responded to more than 1,300 requests to help families located missing loved ones.
  • Local and national Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs) are providing emergency assistance to survivors. Those seeking to donate to the recovery efforts, can do so by visiting hawaiistatevoad.org.
  • Co-hosted by FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons and the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the webinar focuses on Legal Considerations for Achieving Equitable Recovery to provide insights on how emergency managers can partner with organizations that provide legal services and consider the legal aspect of disaster recovery as noted in the National Disaster Attorney Guidebook
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration insured mortgages and Home Equity Conversion Mortgages. Homeowners affected by the disaster should contact their mortgage or loan servicer immediately. Call the FHA Resource Center at 1-800-304-9320 for additional information. To learn more about disaster relief options for FHA homeowners visit the FHA Disaster Relief site.
    • HUD also released regulatory and administrative waivers to help communities accelerate their recovery. This includes funding for housing rehabilitation and reconstruction, homebuyer programs replacing disaster damaged residences, infrastructure improvements and assistance to people at risk of homelessness.
  • Understanding debris removal will be a critical aspect of recovery, FEMA mission assigned both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start the process of debris collection and planning for removal.  
  • To learn more about the Hawaii Wildfires response and recovery efforts, visit FEMA.gov. FEMA also launched a rumors page to provide accurate information to survivors. 
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