GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Air National Guard Maj. David Kashiwamura will be helping to direct the flood cleanup in Kula, Maui. National Guard heavy equipment along with some Oahu reservists arrived on the Valley Isle yesterday.
National Guard to aid cleanup on Maui
Debris removal aims to avert flooding
WAILUKU » About 50 Hawaii National Guard troops were scheduled to arrive in Kula today to begin the task of clearing debris from flood-prone areas, including stream beds where a wall of water, logs and mud swept away a home and severely damaged another in early December.
About 20 Hawaii National Guard reservists from Oahu, along with heavy-equipment vehicles, arrived on Maui yesterday to assist in the cleanup. The group will be joining 30 National Guard troops from Maui.
The joint operation includes Hawaii Army and Air National Guard reservists called to active duty for at least three weeks.
Maj. David Kashiwamura of the Air National Guard said debris is being cleared to prevent the kind of flash-flooding that occurred in December.
A flash flood about 50 yards wide with logs sticking up stormed down a gulch in Waiohuli between Pueo and Lauie drives around 1:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and swept away the house owned by Harold and Gail Haupu.
Their son Shane, 38, and grandson Isaiah, 8, climbed to the roof, where they were rescued by a fire rescue helicopter.
Kashiwamura said the troops will be working in residential areas identified by the county as requiring cleanup.
The county has identified five locations for cleanup in the Waiohuli and Polipoli areas, including two culverts that have "mountain-high" debris, said county disaster recovery coordinator Francis Kau.
Kau said county workers will be helping in excavating the debris out of the culverts.
He said the debris will be taken to a location near the National Guard Armory in Puunene, where it is to be sorted for potential recycling. He said the county plans to recycle the dirt and green waste.
"We're being very judicious as to what we put into the dump," he said. "Whatever we can recycle, we're recycling."
Kashiwamura said some of the target areas, such as gulches, are inaccessible by vehicle and will require troops to hand-carry the debris.
Other areas will require troops to cut roads to clear debris.
"This is going to be a lot of hard work," said Kashiwamura, who worked with a dozen troops for a couple of days in December on Maui doing a similar job.
The transports included four Bobcats, three Humvees, two scoop loaders and several troop carriers and dump trucks.
Kashiwamura said the first phase will involve clearing areas of debris mauka of Kula Highway in the Polipoli area, as requested by the county.
He said the second phase would include clearing debris makai of Kula Highway, including Hawaiian homesteads.
The last time the National Guard was called into active service was during the October 2006 earthquakes that isolated the community of Kipahulu, Maui, and required helicopter airlifts of supplies.
Hawaii National Guard Adjutant General Robert G.F. Lee said troops, by using the new Hawaii Superferry, were able to move themselves and vehicles to Maui in a single day.
Lee said the transport normally would take one to two weeks, with vehicles being transported by barge and troops flying in by air.
"The Superferry has become the most cost-effective means of moving equipment and troops," Lee said. He said the troops also have the opportunity to discuss plans while being transported by the Superferry.
Kau said experts reviewed the damage from the storm in December, and the cause of the flooding was inconclusive.