GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaiian homesteaders Gail Haupu and her 8-year-old grandson Isaiah yesterday recounted the flood that swept their house into a gulch in Kula, Maui. The Haupus plan to rebuild in the same community but not on the same site. In the background to the right is the top portion of the house.
Starting to rebuild after flood
A Maui family and the National Guard clean up after flooding
KULA, Maui » About five weeks after a flash flood swept their home into a gulch, the family of Harold and Gail Haupu is hoping to rebuild a new house on a different site but in the same Hawaiian homestead community of Waiohuli.
Gail Haupu said state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands officials have provided her family a temporary suburban home at Waiehu Kou II in central Maui and are helping the family rebuild.
"We're working and they're working on things," Haupu said. "They have been very helpful."
Others working yesterday were scores of county employees and Hawaii National Guard soldiers and airmen, helping to cut and clear debris from flood-prone areas, including gulches and culverts along Kula mountain slopes.
Under sunny skies and with no water in the gulches, more than 50 Guard soldiers began clearing fallen trees, boulders and mud spread over hundreds of yards.
The reservists, including 20 from Oahu, plan to spend the next three weeks working at five locations in Waiohuli and Polipoli to make sure the culverts do not become clogged and create the potential for another flash flood.
"I think it's great the National Guard can help out," said 1st Lt. Brian Ouimet. "We do more than fight wars."
Maj. David Kashiwamura said the work went well yesterday. "We actually did a lot of debris removal," he said.
Kashiwamura said the National Guard plans to spend more than a week clearing debris from areas mauka of Kula Highway. A second phase will involve removing debris makai of the highway in the Waiohuli area.
Joining the National Guard on Saturday will be about 120 volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, using rakes, shovels and chain saws.
"We are just going to be doing whatever the county tells us to do," said Kahului-Hawaii Stake President Arnold Wunder.
Haupu said on the afternoon of Dec. 5, she heard on her car radio about a house being swept into the gulch and a man and boy in the home being saved from the rooftop by a fire rescue helicopter.
But Haupu said she did not know until later, while waiting at the Kula Community Center, that the house was hers and the man and boy were her son Shane and her 8-year-old grandson, Isaiah.
"It was devastating," she said. "I actually went into shock."
Isaiah said he and his uncle climbed out the bedroom window onto cactus to get on the roof. Isaiah, who still has cactus sores on the bottom of his feet, said he's received about 16 shots from a physician.
He said he was in the kitchen on Dec. 5 when he heard a thunderous sound and saw a wall of trees and mud higher than his house coming toward him.
Isaiah said he went into a bedroom where his uncle was calling for help and his uncle helped him to get onto the roof from the window, then climbed onto the roof himself.
"He almost fell off when he was on the roof," Isaiah said.
Isaiah said of the six family dogs, one remains missing. "There really wasn't time to save the dogs," he said.
Gail Haupu said her family, who waited 20 years to get on Hawaiian homestead land, won't rebuild on the same site since it has been severely undermined. But she said she wants a place in Waiohuli because she grew up in the nearby rural area of Ulupalakua. "It's country. It's home," she said.
Relatives have established a fund to assist the Haupus. Donations may be made at any branch of Bank of Hawaii to the Haupu Ohana Relief Fund.