FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Woodlawn Bridge, next to Manoa Marketplace, officials held a press conference yesterday to outline flood mitigation efforts for the area.
Manoa floods remain a concern
State and city officials present an overview of preventive efforts
City, state and federal officials gathered yesterday on the first anniversary of the Manoa flood to assure residents work is being done to decrease the chances of water topping Manoa Stream's banks again.
"I know it's been frustrating," said City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, whose district includes Manoa and who lives in the valley, "but we're making sure that all this work gets done."
The flood, attributed to unusually heavy rain and clogged stream beds, caused an estimated $90 million damage to Manoa homes and businesses.
It also swept through the University of Hawaii's flagship campus, ruining research labs and the basement collections at Hamilton Library.
At the news conference in Manoa yesterday, Mayor Mufi Hannemann outlined several projects the city has for Manoa Stream, including a dredging plan for the 40 feet of stream bed on either side of the Woodlawn Drive bridge.
During the Manoa flood, waters spilled over the bridge, rushed down Woodlawn Drive and through Noelani Elementary School, homes on Pamoa Road and the university's campus.
Since then, residents have been calling for officials to come up with a plan to decrease the chances of flooding at the bridge.
Manoa resident Steve Ward, interim director of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Biogenesis Research, said that during a recent heavy rain, rushing waters came within two or three feet of topping the bridge.
"The prospect is really out there" for a second flood, he said this weekend in a telephone interview.
"Every time it rains, I'm out there looking."
Hannemann said crews will dig down about three feet into the stream bed as part of the project and also remove debris, including wood, rocks and trash.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
In a file photo, cars became water-driven debris during last year's Manoa flood, near the Longs Drug Store at Manoa Marketplace.
The cost of the work has not yet been tallied, but it is expected to start within a month, he said.
Other city projects planned include:
» Emergency repair of 125 feet of concrete wall along lower Manoa Stream, near Koali Road and Hokulani Elementary. The $2.1 million project is expected to be finished this week.
» Reconstruction of a concrete section of stream bed at the Kahaloa Drive bridge. Bids for the $188,340 project will be requested in early 2006.
» Concrete stream bed repair, expected to cost about $29,820, at East Manoa Road. The bid process will start at the end of the year.
Hannemann said he understands why some residents have voiced frustration about the progress of flood mitigation efforts for the stream.
"We're very sensitive and sympathetic," he said, adding that officials are devising short- and long-term solutions.
In the long term, the state is expected to analyze the results of an Army Corps of Engineers study on the stream to determine what can be done to reduce the chances of flooding.
The $60,000 report is set to be released in December.
Some improvements to the stream bed could be covered by an estimated $2.5 million in federal disaster aid that state Civil Defense is expecting later this year.
"We believe we have some significant funding," said state Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Peter Young.
The Corps of Engineers is also working on a flood zone study for Manoa Stream and the Ala Wai Canal. But flood mitigation work for that project would not start until 2010. And, said Derek Chow, senior project manager for the corps study, there is no guarantee that federal funds for the work will come through.
State and federal officials are also looking at the possibility of taking over ownership of some parts of the stream bed in order to ensure that they are better maintained. Right now, much of the stream is owned by individual homeowners, whose property lines extend into the middle of the waterway.