TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Moloaa Stream Bridge, which was replaced in 1997, was washed away in a recent flood. The eight households on the other side are stuck using another private bridge at the landowner's whim. CLICK FOR LARGE
Moloaa residents left stranded
Residents struggle to cope after a flood washes away the only public bridge to eight Kauai homes
MOLOAA, Kauai » Some residents of this north shore valley say they're starting to feel like the castaways of "Gilligan's Island" -- stranded.
Eight households have been stuck without a bridge along Moloaa Hui Road A since a flash flood Feb. 21 took out the only public way to their homes. The neighbors have been left to figure out how to get in and out of their community, which is just upstream from where the pilot of the 1960s TV show was filmed.
While there is another privately owned vehicular bridge that traverses the 8-foot-wide Moloaa Stream, residents say red tape and a lack of aloha have them fearing they will be stranded for good.
Lee Parisi, 73, said, "It's kind of a sticky situation."
"And this is just the beginning. ... It's going to go on for months and months," she said Friday.
The residents who live in a rich jungle valley full of farms are a hardy bunch to begin with, living "off the grid," without regular power or many county services.
Now, though, the neighborhood has been stuck "relying on the goodwill of others," Parisi said, using foot bridges and a privately owned one-lane bridge downstream of Moloaa Hui Road A.
But the owner of that remaining vehicular bridge wants $500 a household for its use to pay for repairs to the span. That agreement does not include use of the private road getting to the bridge, which is owned by two other households, residents said.
The deadline for the money was Friday. Instead of paying, some residents planned to park their cars on the other side of the stream. For some, it means a 1/2 to 34-mile hike across footbridges.
"We are basically locked out and flooded out," said resident Gary Henderson. "It seems the famed aloha spirit of Hawaii does not always flow through this normally gentle stream."
While Henderson said last week that he will likely pay the $500, Parisi and her neighbor, Wil Wilcox, say they will lug everything in via their neighbor's foot bridges.
For Parisi, a retiree, that means lugging all her supplies, including propane canisters, over a half-mile from the car to her house.
"Just the running of the household is pretty hard," she said. "I stocked up on food, but it's beginning to run out."
Wilcox, a farmer, said he has postponed bringing in larger items, and he will buy a used car so he can keep his truck near the farm. He said he might even put up a new foot bridge so he does not have to "trudge" so far.
Wilcox and Parisi, though, who have only used the private bridge a couple of times, both say they are not blaming the homeowner, whom they identified as Ricardo Russell, for cutting off access.
"I can understand the situation," Wilcox said. There are liability issues, not to mention that the bridge also needs work after it suffered flood damage.
Russell said in a telephone interview that he does not own the home. A person in Santa Barbara, Calif., whom he would not name, is the property owner, he said.
But he did say that "we're all affected by the loss of the bridge."
TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
Eight households have been stuck without a bridge along Moloaa Hui Road A since a flash flood Feb. 21 took out the only public way to their homes. A county official says the state will fund the project, and the county will supply manpower.
Most of the residents blame the county for dragging their feet on replacing the span.
Parisi said she talked to an administrative assistant in Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste's office shortly after the flood, and was told the bridge would be replaced within a few weeks.
But last week, she called again and got a different answer: The county does not own the bridge, and the mayor's office does not know who will fix it.
Henderson said that she keeps getting shuttled back and forth between the Mayor's Office and the County Engineer's Office.
County public information officer Mary Daubert said Friday: "Ownership of that road is a rather convoluted issue. However, the state and county do agree that it is a public road."
She added that the county, with the state and the U.S. Navy, are working as quickly as possible to replace the bridge.
The bridge was actually replaced in 1997 after flood damaged the concrete span. A Navy team put up the span, but Daubert said they are not available because of the "global war on terrorism."
The state will fund the project and the county will supply the manpower, Daubert said. But no one is sure when construction will start.
Meanwhile, the neighbors worked on getting supplies back to their homes.
"If they just let us know what to expect, then we'd know where to look," Parisi said.