October 24, 2023 | By Mark Ladao:
A delegation from Hawaiʻi is in Washington, D.C., this week to pursue more aid in the aftermath of the August fires on Maui.
Elected officials and representatives from different local organizations are meeting with leaders of federal agencies providing assistance on Maui.
They include officials from the White House, the Economic Development Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Management and Budget.
Kūhiō Lewis, the president and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, is part of the delegation in Washington.
“I think the goal of this is to make sure that they hear from our community, but also some of the suggestions that have come over the last couple of months, that have materialized by way of the work that’s going on,” Lewis said.
“I think the hope here is to ensure that the voices of our community are forefront in the discussions that are happening in D.C.,” he said.
They are requesting aid not just for immediate relief but for the long-term recovery of the areas affected by the fires.
The requests include $800 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; $500 million from both the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and $100 million from the Department of the Interior.
Other representatives from the delegation include Maui County Council Vice Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura, Honolulu City Council Vice Chair Esther Kiaʻāina and the legislative liaison to the Maui County mayor Laksmi Abraham.
Local organizations in Washington include the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, Maui Economic Opportunity, Maui United Way, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Maui Economic Development Board and ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures.
Lewis said the delegation will be in the nation’s capital until Thursday.
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