Gov. Lingle declares a disaster and calls the National Guard to help
Gov. Linda Lingle has called up the National Guard to help clean up after three days of flooding along Oahu's Windward coast.
Citing rainfall of up to 23 inches in 48 hours, she signed a disaster declaration late Thursday that will speed state funds and help to the area and make federal aid money accessible. Yesterday, however, Lingle said the flooding was severe enough to warrant a federal disaster declaration.
To get flood help
Where to turn for some flood relief:
» Sandbags might be available by calling the city corporation yards at Kaneohe (247-3553) and Laie (293-5657), Dela Cruz said.
» A disaster assistance center to help residents, farmers and business owners in filling out forms for loans and other help will be set up next week by the state Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism.
» Anyone on Kauai, Oahu or Maui who has suffered rain and flooding-related damage can call Aloha United Way's 211 line, and the agency will relay information to the appropriate state or city entity.
Flooded buildings could pose danger
Even after the water is gone, a flooded home or business can present a wide variety of hazards that can cause injury, illness or even death.
The state Department of Health recommends not allowing children in a building that was flooded while it is being cleaned, inspected or repaired. Watch for:
» Electrical hazards: If any electrical circuits have gotten wet, turn power off at the main breaker or fuse box and leave it off until inspected and repaired by a licensed electrician. If power lines are down, call the electric company for repairs.
» Structural damage: Do not enter a building if the framing or foundation is damaged until inspected by a building inspector.
» Hazardous materials: Be aware that dangerous materials such as pesticides, fuel oil, gasoline, chemicals and other substances might have been released by the flood.
» Biological hazards: Bacteria, viruses, molds and mildew can cause illness when you breathe them in or take them into your body through your mouth or through a cut in the skin. Bacteria or viruses can be left indoors by floodwater, while mold and mildew can grow indoors after the floodwater has receded.
At a news conference yesterday, Ed Teixeira, state Civil Defense vice director, said survey teams from Civil Defense and the Red Cross estimated that 10 to 20 homes along the Windward coast flooded. But Teixeira cautioned that they have not been able to inspect all the homes in some of the area's remote valleys.
State and city officials are expected to get a better view of the damage during a helicopter flight today.
"They will look at a 20-mile stretch, Kahuku to Kahaluu, to find out where the damage is, especially up in the valleys," Ray Lovell, a state Civil Defense spokesman, said last night.
National Guard troops will deploy to clear key clogged streams and drainage ways this weekend, Lovell said.
"There is a sense of urgency because of the possibility of another similar (weather) system starting next Wednesday," Lovell said. "They'll focus on getting culverts, bridges and so forth cleaned." He said the troops will pick up debris by hand and with heavy equipment.
Rod Haraga, state transportation director, said yesterday that road crews worked for 30 hours to clear portions of Kamehameha Highway.
"But we have a lot of areas where we have running water coming over Kamehameha Highway. We are asking drivers to slow down. There are other areas of standing water, areas up to 6 inches, from Kualoa park to Punaluu, so slow down," Haraga said.
Fears that falling boulders would either close Kamehameha Highway at Kahana Valley or damage the road turned out to not to come to pass.
"They aren't boulders, they are large rocks," Haraga said. "We thought at first that the road surface was damaged. Indeed, it is not; I drove it this morning."
He added, "There is a lot of debris and runoff. The watershed area above the highway is a huge area, so even if the rain stops we still see a huge amount of water rushing across Kamehameha Highway."
The Transportation Department used the town-bound lanes of Pali Highway to contra-flow commuters from Honolulu to the Windward side during rush hour last night. Both directions of the highway were reopened to normal traffic flow at 7:15 p.m.
TheBus resumed service through the affected area yesterday.
City spokesman Mark Matsunaga said city road crew workers will be working today, and city environmental services workers will continue to monitor eight places that had sewage overflows yesterday.
City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who represents the affected area, and other city officials toured the Windward Coast by car yesterday afternoon. "It was very gratifying to see a lot of city employees out there helping," Dela Cruz said.
Managing Director Wayne Hashiro said city crews from other parts of the island are helping the Windward crews, Dela Cruz said.