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Governor declares disaster for rain-soaked Kaua‘i

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Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 11:45 pm

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a disaster proclamation for Kaua‘i and O‘ahu Tuesday morning as rains continued to fall on portions of the drenched islands.

The proclamation, requested by Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Monday night following a day-long deluge on the east and north ends of Kaua‘i, allows for any necessary steps to be carried out and provides for activation of civil defense and other emergency functions to ensure public health and safety, states a release from the governor.

Kuhio Highway, a major connection between Kilauea and the North Shore, including Hanalei and Ha‘ena, is still closed in portions, said a news release from the county.

The road is still closed in the vicinity of Ha‘ena Beach Park, but both lanes of Kuhio Highway at the Kalihiwai Bridge were opened at 4 p.m. just north of Kilauea town following a landslide Monday night that forced the closure of both lanes.

To compound the problem, traffic on Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of Mile Marker 22.5 in Kilauea is being diverted around a collapsed culvert. Northbound traffic was diverted to Kolo Road, while southbound traffic was redirected onto Pili Road.

Tuesday’s disaster proclamation is in addition to a March 2 proclamation authorizing the state Department of Transportation to begin emergency highway repair work on this section of road affected by the partial collapse of a 15-foot-diameter culvert, the news release states.

Nawiliwili Harbor traffic was closed on Wa‘apa Road between the Niumalu Road and Wilcox Road junction after a banyan tree perched atop the rocky cliff came tumbling down around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“It was like a domino effect,” said a harbor spokesperson. “There was a crew working almost directly across where the tree came down. They heard what sounded like crackling sounds and turned around to see the tree come down, snapping several utility poles in the process. It was like watching everything in slow motion.”

Fearing the collapse of  dirt walls on Niumalu Road and uncertain of the effect of losing the tree on the hill, officials re-routed traffic to the Niumalu residential area through the Kipu bypass road while crews from the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and Hawaiian Telcom replace the broken poles.

The Department of Transportation  closed the south leg of the Kapa‘a bypass road indefinitely after heavy rains and floods undermined a 36-inch culvert under the roadway.

Department spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said state highway personnel have completed site inspections and repairs have been expedited.

The flash flood warning which hung over the heads of residents since Saturday night was canceled at 4:06 p.m., replaced by a flash flood watch in effect until 6 a.m. today.

Additionally, a high surf warning is in effect for the east shores of Kaua‘i, and a high surf advisory continues for the north shore.

County officials said the Hanalei transfer station is closed until further notice. Additionally, green waste services at all transfer stations have been suspended until further notice. The Kekaha Landfill is currently accepting green waste.

Kapa‘a Middle School had opened as an emergency shelter, but shut down Tuesday. Church of the Pacific in Princeville remained open Tuesday as a temporary holding center.

The American Red Cross reported 15 people stayed at Waioli Church in Hanalei, another temporary holding center. Seven stayed at an emergency shelter set up at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, and 33 stayed at Kapa‘a Middle School, where a school official said the guests were mostly from the Princeville area who could not return to their hotels. About 30 people stayed at an emergency shelter at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center. All guests were from Kaua‘i Beach Resort who were evacuated after the hotel lost electrical power.

A worker at  Waioli Church said no one stopped by Sunday, but about a dozen people sought refuge Monday. The visitors left Tuesday morning when Hanalei Bridge opened briefly. He said they all had missed their flights home.

The Big Save store in  Ching Young Village has struggled with limited manpower and dwindling stock trying to keep stranded people supplied.

Krystal Gardner, the Big Save grocery manager, said once the Hanalei Bridge shut down at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, most employees were not able to make it to work. She and one other employee worked, limiting hours of operation and allowing only 15 shoppers at a time.

“We’ve had record sales in the last three days,” Gardner said Tuesday. “I don’t think we’ve ever sold that much before.”

She said the store is running low on supplies.

“There are still a few vegetables remaining, and people are buying them as fast as they can,” Gardner said. “We are running very low on meat. We have some in the back, but no one to cut it.”

She said the situation in Hanalei has been bad, with people sleeping in their cars, unable to get to their homes or hotel rooms.

“I wish I had something to help people, other than just food,” Gardner said.

On the other side of the Hanalei Bridge, Foodland Princeville reported strong sales Monday and Tuesday, store director Rob Johnson said.

“The orders have been huge,” Johnson said. “It’s like a holiday. People have probably seen the long-range forecast and are buying a lot of food and supplies for the next three days.” He said their stock levels are in good shape.

The state Department of Education announced all schools will resume full schedules Wednesday, except Hanalei School.

School bus transportation from Ha‘ena to Hanalei will not be operating, and students living in Hanalei to Ha‘ena who attend Kapa‘a Middle School and Kapa‘a High Schools will not have school bus transportation, states the education agency’s website.

Teachers and staff members who are unable to report to work will need to contact their supervisor, the agency reported.

All other public and charter schools are open, the website states.

The National Weather Service reported 12.74 inches of rain, the largest amount on Kaua‘i, fell in Wainiha in a 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Hanalei reported 8.45 inches, Anahola had 4.217 inches and Kapahi measured 3.89 inches during that time.

Mount Waialeale, arguably the wettest spot on the globe, came in at 1.8 inches, with Lihu‘e Airport measuring 2.35 inches.

On the leeward side of the island, Po‘ipu recorded .77 of an inch of rain, Kalaheo had .45 of an inch, Hanapepe recorded .37 of an inch and Waimea came in at .32.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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