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Case releases guide to federal resources to prevent, mitigate and respond to further wildfires : Maui Now

Rep. Ed Case was part of the Hawaiʻi Congressional delegation that visited Front Street as President Joe Biden spoke about the Maui wildfires and the federal response. Photos: Office of Gov. Josh Green. (8.20.23)

Six months after the devastating Maui wildfires, US Rep. Ed Case (HI-01) released a comprehensive guide to federal resources to assist Hawai‘i in preventing, mitigating and responding to continuing wildfire risks across the state.

Case’s Hawai‘i Wildfire Prevention/Mitigation/Response: Guide to Federal Resources and Assistance identifies 12 key federal, state, county and non-government organizations responsible for wildfire risk and response, along with 10 key existing federal programs offering financial and technical assistance.

It also outlines specific further Congressional action items, from increased annual appropriations to greater military participation and changes to federal programs to improve federal participation and focus on specific needs.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs): CWPPs are collaborative, community-driven, hyper-local frameworks that outline local priorities for wildfire risk mitigation. There are 16 CWPPs currently in place in Hawai‘i (see figure below), although only two for O’ahu (West O’ahu and North Shore). East Honolulu is currently developing a plan. Federal funding is available through the US Forest Service to develop, revise or implement CWPPs.
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“For the last six months, I have joined my Hawai‘i Congressional delegation partners in fully focusing on assuring our federal government does all it can to respond fully at all levels to the tragic Maui wildfires,” said Case, a member of the US House Committee on Appropriations and of its Subcommittee on Homeland Security with jurisdiction over operation and funding of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We have made good progress, including an estimated billion dollars of federal assistance spent or obligated to date, but this will be a continuing years-long effort. But as critical as that effort will remain, it is equally critical to recognize that the Maui wildfires were not an isolated occurrence over the past decade-plus, as we have seen since above Mililani Mauka. They also exposed vulnerabilities in our preparedness for disaster across our state,” said Congressman Case.

“We must learn and act on the lessons of Maui now, including the immediate need to fully review where we face similar risks elsewhere in our state; identify, coordinate and mobilize resources for wildfire risk prevention, mitigation and response; and take full action now to prevent another such tragedy and to mitigate and respond to further wildfires as they may occur,” he said.

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Case said the federal government has a major role to play in this effort, and hopes the document contributes to coordination.

“My office, working with state and county partners, created this guide identify the major federal, state, county and community organizations responsible for addressing wildfire risk along with the major federal programs which provide funding and other assistance to address wildfire risk and response, as well as some specific federal initiatives that will improve these efforts. I will use this plan as a guide for my own efforts in Congress,” he said.

Case provided his guide to his state and county government partners and asked that they “review it especially for opportunities to work with me to expand federal funding and other assistance and otherwise coordinate our state, local and community efforts with our federal government.”

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The principal federal programs which Case highlighted to his state and county colleagues are administered by three US Departments: Interior, Agriculture and Homeland Security. Case said he is focused on improving and funding these programs as he works now in Appropriations on preparing the federal budget for upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 (commencing Oct. 1 of 2024).

Source: Maui News

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