FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
State and city officials met with residents at Washington Middle School yesterday to discuss the flooding during the recent rains. McCully resident Lillian Novak recounted experiences during that time. Behind her sat John Cummings of Civil Defense, left, Sen. Carol Fukunaga and city official Eugene Lee.
No flood solutions planned
Residents from Makiki and McCully complain about their experiences to state and city officials
Makiki and McCully residents whose properties were damaged when Makiki Stream overflowed its banks were told last night that the flooding problem won't be solved anytime soon.
They peppered city and state officials with questions about whether the muddy stream channels will be dredged and if an early-warning system can be implemented. The flooding resulting from heavy rainfall March 31 that damaged dozens of homes and apartments and left mud in yards and streets throughout the area.
"We don't have anything scheduled," Eugene Lee, deputy director of the city Department of Design and Construction, told the crowd of about 70 people at Washington Middle School. He was one of a dozen officials to speak at a Disaster Relief Community Forum organized by state and city lawmakers from the area.
A stream dredging project "requires a lot of money," Lee said. When the city budgets for it, "you need to come out and support a budget bill," he told the crowd. Stream maintenance "will be getting a lot more attention, I can assure you," Lee said.
"I'm angry and I speak for a lot of others who are," said Lillian Novak, a resident of Algaroba Street for 29 years. The flooding "came like a bomb. No one warned us."
"Thank God it was spring break," said Novak, who brought a poster of photographs showing high water around the area of Washington Middle and Lunalilo Elementary schools. "We didn't lose anybody this time. But there are senior citizens and schoolkids on foot in this area. There's no evacuation plan.
"We can't wait until 2008; we want something done this year," Novak said.
George Tom, of Nanea Street, said: "They used to dredge the stream. They don't do it anymore." Tom, whose family has lived near Lunalilo School for 35 years, said this was the worst flooding he ever experienced there.
"The city wants me to move the mud," said Robert Kuwata of Nanea Street. "We haven't had any help. It's disgusting." He said he has filled 50 bags with mud that washed into his property, damaging storage areas outside his house. "The city won't take it away."
Dot Fujioka of Citron Street said: "It stinks, it really stinks. We've been shoveling stinky mud and slime for two weeks."
It's a bigger problem than dredging streams, said Bob Masuda, deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The system of streams and concrete channels was built to serve a lightly populated area more than 50 years ago, he said. The standard for culverts built then was to carry 250 cubic feet of water per second.
"What capacity do we need now, it would have to be 2,500 cubic feet," he told the crowd. Development, paved parking lots and walls now channel water into the culverts where it used to sink into the ground.
"It's like a body that's grown 50 times bigger but the blood vessels stayed the same," Masuda said.
Information on low-interest loans and other aid was given to the storm victims, who also came from Palolo and Manoa.