Sat, Sep 9, 2023 1:57 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said he is working with the House and Senate leadership, Maui County and the Hawaii Community Foundation to secure $25 million in grants for businesses affected by last month's fire.
The $10,000 to $20,000 grants are in addition to $100,000 the governor is authorizing in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The fire killed 115 people while 66 are still missing, the governor said in his latest update. The attorney general's office is investigating the cause and response to the fire and is prosecuting anyone who takes advantage of fire victims.
Green said he plans to open the area to visitors in the next few weeks.
"Many have asked when it will be the right time to reopen West Maui to visitors," Green said. "There is no easy answer to this question, but I can say that if we support Maui’s economy and keep our people employed, they will heal faster and continue to be able to afford to live on Maui. Beginning October 8, all travel restrictions will end and West Maui will be open to visitors again, so people from Hawaii and around the world can resume travel to this special place and help it begin to recover economically."
Maui residents affected by the fire will wait a bit longer to return to their homes.
“Once the EPA has completed the removal of hazardous materials from the affected areas, which will take three to four months, we can begin the removal of the remaining debris,” Green said. “We are in partnership with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in this effort, which will take the better part of a year to complete. We have engaged 25 cultural practitioners to help guide this effort and ensure that Hawaiian traditions are respected during this process, and we will make every effort to use local workers and local companies to complete the work.”
Debris removal will cost about $1 billion, the governor said.