Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News
Oahu storm damage: $13 million

Clinton: Hawaii to receive
federal disaster relief

By Harold Morse

President Clinton shortly before leaving Hawaii for a Pacific conference today declared an emergency for the flood-ravaged state and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery.

The president's order authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate efforts to slleviate problems and hardships caused by the heavy rainfall since Nov. 5 and approves the state's request for $5 million to cope with the public health hazard.

Blue skies and huge white clouds today replaced longtime gray overcasts that dumped almost two weeks of torrential rains in the islands and left more than $13 million in estimated damage on Oahu alone.

The assessment of storm damage is continuing amid optimistic weather reports of normal trade winds and sunshine, with intermittent showers and occasional patches of fog. The last gasp of stormy weather pounded Oahu Saturday, unleashing up to 3 inches of rain in places and causing more mudslides, damage to homes and spilled sewage.

Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday proclaimed a disaster emergency for the entire state, due to the flooding and landslides which have plagued Hawaii since Nov. 5.

Cayetano said he took the action to provide relief from the extensive damage to private and public property.

"I am asking President Clinton to declare a public health emergency based on the health hazards found on Oahu from overflowing cesspools and sewage spilling into the ocean," Cayetano said.

After golfing in Maunawili with Clinton Saturday, Cayetano said the president told him he expected claims for disaster relief after personally experiencing the rains and reading about the damage. "They may not even reach his level but, frankly, I think we will be able to receive some assistance."

Said Cayetano yesterday: "My immediate concern is for the health and safety of the people and children, who need to avoid all contact with the contaminated waters in the flooded areas."

Plans called for posting signs of contaminated waters and to issue warnings to avoid swimming and fishing, he said.

The immediate focus was on Oahu's Waianae Coast, especially in Maili and Nanakuli, along Hakimo and Paakea roads, Cayetano said.

A Red Cross shelter that housed and assisted flood victims from marathon heavy rains in Waianae closed last night, after sheltering 30 victims Saturday night.

High surf warnings remain in effect for north and west shores, and small craft warnings remain for all Hawaiian waters.

Damage assessment won't be completed until at least late today, said Roy Price, state vice director of civil defense.

Under a joint partnership survey effort, Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel and state and county representatives toured the Waianae coast, Schofield peninsula and Haleiwa region yesterday, Price said. The federal Small Business Administration also took part.

Altogether, 25-30 people worked in various assessment teams, he said, and additional work may be needed on the neighbor islands. "We'll have to wait and see."

Price anticipated today's assessment work would continue "well after the sun goes down."

The tentative $13 million-plus estimate for Oahu came from Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Harris and other officials asked parents to keep children from playing in flood waters. Cesspool contamination exists in some places, and farmyards and other sources may contribute to pollution. City and county crews spent the weekend relieving flooding in Ewa, Waianae and North Shore.

Runoff created a brownish tinge in shoreline ocean waters, and hundreds of weekend sightseers watched big waves crash on the North Shore, spawned by the same weather systems that produced the recent deluge of rain.

Roy Matsuda, National Weather Service lead forecaster, said the weather band parked over most of the state has moved to the east; a relatively weak cold front replaced it.

"This last cold front that gave us showers is just about concentrating itself east of here on Maui and the Big Island," he said. The band that caused the earlier winter storms that began Nov. 5 is now more than 100 miles east of the Big Island, Matsuda said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community] [Info] [Stylebook] [Feedback]