Military Relief Societies have awarded grants of more than $ 1 million over the past week to service members and their families in Hawaii who have paid for out-of-pocket expenses related to fuel contamination in the fuel supply system. Navy water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has awarded 1,023 clients approximately $ 600,000 in grants, according to spokesperson Gillian Gonzalez. The requests were for needs such as shelter, food, cleaning supplies, water, gas and even child care, when their supplier was affected by the contamination. Company officials predict that help may be needed in the form of interest-free loans. For example, a member awaiting temporary accommodation allowance to cover hotel costs may need a short-term loan, which would be repaid when the allowance is paid to the member.
- Army Emergency Relief processed 616 requests, totaling $ 369,600 in grants, to soldiers and families affected by the water contamination, according to information provided to AER officials by the AER section of Schofield Barracks. They offer a grant of $ 600 to each soldier affected.
- Air Force Aid Society provided 292 customers with a total of $ 175,200, spokeswoman Latoya Crowe said. They provide $ 600 in financial assistance per request, she said. At a town hall on December 5, an Air Force wife said she had heard of a denial of assistance from the Air Force Aid Society, but the relief society did not only started offering help on Dec. 3, Crowe said. . The requests concerned expenses for accommodation, food and water.
On November 28, a number of military families reported to officials at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that they smelled fuel in their water. Many families said they and their children had experienced symptoms in the previous days, including rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches and other problems. After the fuel smells started, families began spending money on clean water, take out food, and other necessities. Some families have decided on their own to move to hotels. A few days later, the army began to provide drinking water.
Armed Forces Housing Advocates also provided residents with water early on and organized showers outside the base for families before the military brought some of these facilities into communities.
On December 2, the military offered contract hotel rooms to residents of the Aliamanu Military Reserve housing area, which is served by the Navy’s water supply system. The Navy followed suit with a mix of contracted hotel rooms and accommodation allowances. More than 1,400 homes in 11 residential areas have been affected by contaminated water, according to the Navy. Authorities have set up centers to provide individual assistance to affected families, including information on how to contact their military relief society for help.
Navy officials confirmed on Dec. 3 that a water sample from their Red Hill well came back positive for petroleum contamination. After the first tests on the island showed no contamination, the Navy sent samples to the Americas for more sophisticated analysis.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families “. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida and Athens, Georgia.