The families of those who died in the Maui fire last year could receive up to $1.5 million in compensation if they choose to not sue state agencies and companies involved.
Gov. Josh Green (D) made the announcement at a press conference marking the six-month mark since a wildfire swept the tourist town of Lahaina killing 100 people and displacing many more.
The One ‘Ohana Initiative is a $175 million fund with contributions from the state of Hawaii, Maui County, Hawaiian Electric Company, Kamehameha Schools, Charter Communications, Hawaiian Telcom and the West Maui Land Company.
“The 100 individuals that were lost all had families and we have put together $175 million, if they choose, in a voluntary way, to accept a settlement of $1.5 million that would go to each family,” Green said.
The funds, if families choose to participate, would be given out starting March 1 and roll out over the course of three months. The money is directed toward families that lost a loved one in the wildfire or were injured severely.
Green said in the future they hope to put together a fund that will help people who lost land and businesses. The fire damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association.
The money is first going to the victims’ families because it’s the “first space where we feel we should be most compassionate,” Green said.
Green initially announced in November that there would be a $150 million relief fund to support the victims’ families, with payouts nearing $1 million each. He did not specify why there was an increase in the total award available for each family.
The fund was modeled after the Sept. 11 victim compensation fund, which gave families of victims of the terror attacks more than $7 billion.
If the families agree to take the settlement, they are agreeing to not pursue litigation against any of the partners contributing to the fund, including Hawaiian Electric, the utility company which is believed to have been responsible for the wildfire.
There are multiple lawsuits against the company from victims and property owners that are ongoing.
Green said in a press release that the relief efforts will now be transitioned to focus on long-term housing solutions to give the nearly 10,000 people who were displaced “stability and a sense of normalcy.”
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