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Buyout program for 2018 Kilauea eruption victims brings hope

October 6, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — As Kilauea volcano continues to erupt at its summit, victims of the 2018 eruption are are getting the chance to rebuild.

A county buyout program for people who lost their homes during the massive eruption three years ago is allowing people to claim the 2017 value of their property up to $230,000.

The current eruption is not in an area with homes.

The application process for those with primary residences that were destroyed ended in July. But anyone who has not yet applied can still do so beginning in November. That’s when the program also opens for secondary residences and long-term rentals.

“I still mourn all of the things that I lost because they’re just irreplaceable,” Kathy Urso told Hawaii News Now.

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Urso lost nearly all of her belongings in the eruption that destroyed more than 700 homes and displaced thousands of residents.

Urso is one of about 300 homeowners who have applied for the program. Officials said 79% of eligible owners expressed interest.

“I think the assistance that we’re offering, there’s a real need for it out there in our communities,” said Douglas Le, Hawaii County disaster recovery officer.

There is a total of about $107 million in federal funding provided by a grant that is the largest the county has ever received, Le said.