February 20, 2024

Mayor Bissen requests $401M from state for Lahaina rebuild, recovery

Mayor Richard Bissen, on behalf of the people of Maui County, made a plea today to the state for $401.75 million over the next three years to help Lahaina rebuild and recover.

County of Maui would separately leverage $198.75 million over the next three years.

In all, rebuilding and recovery estimates would cost the state and the county $600.5 million, which would target critical infrastructure ($337.5 million), housing ($161 million) and emergency response ($102 million).

"Never has Maui come to this body with a more urgent, critical and justified need," Mayor Bissen said during today's Hawai'i State Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing. "And while I fully recognize you are faced with many priorities this session, none are of a higher priority than the people and town of Lahaina."

"Every day, our people are leaving, and this is a consequence that I cannot make peace with," he added. "We must make our people whole again, and we cannot do it without the support of the State."

County of Maui Managing Director Josiah Nishita, who is leading the county’s Office of Recovery, presented portions of an initial recovery needs assessment to the committee. The 82-page document highlights housing projects and infrastructure needs; it is based on community engagement, along with nonprofit, county, state and federal feedback.

When asked by the committee where the bulk of the money is needed, Nishita said that infrastructure is the costliest.

“A big portion of that is the infrastructure restoration that has to occur to be able to provide utility service back to the properties in place to repopulate,” he said.

The state Senate committee hearing item will be continued when County of Maui officials return to resume talks.

To view the whole meeting, including a presentation on the request and the state lawmakers' reactions, visit Hawai’i State Senate WAM’s meeting Feb. 20 on YouTube. For the County of Maui presentation, visit www.mauirecovers.org/officeofrecovery.