THE KAUAI DAM CRISIS
Morita and Ka Loko dams still unsafe
Two experts surveying the Morita and Ka Loko dams on Kauai say both are still unsafe.
Attorney General Mark Bennett met yesterday with the experts, Horst Brandes, a University of Hawaii engineering professor, and Joseph Kilanowski from California, who surveyed both dams.
"They have been able to do enough evaluation to positively conclude that these structures are currently unsafe and that a danger currently exists," Bennett said.
The attorney general said he discussed the findings with Gov. Linda Lingle, who also warned Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste yesterday afternoon.
State and Kauai Civil Defense have already warned residents living below the two Kauai dams that they are dangerous, but Bennett said he was asking that residents be warned again.
"We want to make absolutely certain to all those in the area that there is still a safety risk. We want to recommend that they evacuate," Bennett said.
Bennett has his own state investigators also reviewing the area and has issued subpoenas requesting information about the construction and maintenance of the two dams, which were originally built more than 100 years ago by the now-defunct Kilauea Sugar Plantation.
"I can not comment on the investigation any more except to say that our investigation will continue," Bennett said.
Because of the constant rainfall in the area yesterday, Bennett said his experts were not able to assess conditions around the dams, but he said there was enough instability to issue a warning.
So far, three bodies have been recovered, and four people are still missing in the aftermath of the Tuesday breach of the Ka Loko Dam.
After the Tuesday floods, Bennett opened an investigation into the failure, an action that Lingle praised yesterday.
"I have to give the attorney general credit for his initiative," she said. "Being a lawyer, he recognized that there may be issues down the road."
Asked why Bennett would issue subpoenas instead of just asking for cooperation, Lingle said it was to get information as quickly as possible.
"We are trying to gain a better understanding of the situation, and we are not presuming that anything criminal was done," she said.