The re-opening of all zones in the Lahaina Wildfire Disaster Area was completed today, following a second day of residents returning to their properties in areas along Front Street.
Re-entry into the 83 zones established for the 2,170 acres in the five-mile Lahaina impact area concluded more than a week ahead of schedule. The process started with the first residential zone opening for re-entry Sept. 25 and 26 on Kaniau Road.
Over the 11 weeks that followed, zones were reopened after safety reviews and authorization by Maui County, state and federal agencies and utilities.
“Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters volunteers have spent countless hours assisting our residents in the difficult and emotional process of sifting through the ash and fire debris,” Mayor Richard Bissen said. “Their support has made a difference for many of our community members who were affected by this unprecedented disaster, and for that, we are truly grateful.”
During re-entry days, an average of 65 volunteers were assisting daily from Samaritanʻs Purse, 44 from Hawaiʻi Baptist Convention and 11 from Kokua Lahaina Rising, which provided medical and mental health support. A total of 663 volunteers from Samaritanʻs Purse and 360 from Hawaiʻi Baptist Convention have been part of the effort to help residents sift through their properties since August.
Entry into the disaster area will continue to be restricted, with residents allowed to return to their properties from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily upon showing a vehicle pass or ID at checkpoints.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which completed its work of removing hazardous materials from fire-impacted areas in Lahaina, Kula and Olinda at the end of November, is finishing the application of soil stabilizer Soiltac on properties in Lahaina.
The environmentally friendly Soiltac spray is being applied to help protect air quality and minimize environmental impact by helping to keep toxic ash in place. It requires at least 48 hours to settle to ensure maximum effectiveness.
To allow for the Soiltac application to stabilize, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) groups that have been assisting with debris sifting efforts will be ending their services this month. Property owners who still need to request sifting assistance may contact the following organizations prior to Dec. 21 – Hawaiʻi Baptist Convention at (808) 264-9529 or Samaritanʻs Purse at (808) 280-6714.
The opening of all zones in the disaster area signals the transition from Phase 1 response to Phase 2 recovery. The recovery phase includes ash and debris cleanup and containment, as well as soil testing to ensure properties are clean, safe for rebuilding and free of potentially leached toxins.
Before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can begin work to clear debris from properties, property owners must complete right-of-entry forms authorizing the federal agency to access properties. Property owners who participate in the government-sponsored cleanup are not required to pay any money beyond any insurance proceeds designated for debris removal in their homeownerʻs insurance policy.
Right-of-entry (ROE) applications will also be required for the Army Corps to remove hazards from 173 properties – 73 residential and 100 commercial -- that were deferred by the EPA because physical conditions prevented safe access to the properties. Removal of the hazards must occur before sifting on the properties can take place.
For more information about debris removal, visit www.MauiRecovers.org/debrisremoval or call (877) 214-9117 Monday to Sunday between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
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