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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Flood-prone areas scoured

 •  Flooded areas to get extra trash pickup

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i Army National Guard and Air National Guard crews work under a bridge near Swanzy Beach to clear debris that could clog the waterway should heavy rains come again Thursday and Friday.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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City, state and National Guard personnel yesterday worked near Huamalani Street in Ka'a'awa to clear debris from the path of Makaua Stream. Churning water from last week's deluge eroded the stream's banks, nearly doubling the width of the streambed.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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All public schools are scheduled to be open today, the state Department of Education said.

Whom to call for assistance

Debris, other flood help:

• To report debris clogging streams, bridges or culverts, call 211. The report will be forwarded to state Civil Defense or to the appropriate agency.

• All other flood damage and loss reports also can be made by calling 211.

• Call the American Red Cross at 739-8113 for supplies or help with assessing damage. To make a donation, call 739-8109, visit www.hawaiiredcross.org or write to American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816.

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KA'A'AWA State, city and National Guard personnel spent yesterday clearing debris from under Windward O'ahu bridges, inside culverts and in streambeds in hopes of preventing more flooding during rain showers expected this week.

About 35 Army and Air Guard personnel raked out tree branches, shrubs, rocks and trash that made their way down Makaua Stream in Ka'a'awa, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Raging waters two days before carved away the stream's banks, leaving the stream about double its former width.

"In light of the fact that we could have another rainy event, we wanted to target the bridge crossings and get rid of the debris that's there so that if we do have more rain, the debris doesn't cause debris dams, have water bypass over the roads and flood residential areas," said Ed Teixeira, vice director of state Civil Defense.

National Weather Service forecaster Bob Burke said more rain is expected Thursday and Friday.

"It's really too early to pinpoint where the heaviest rains will form, but the overall weather pattern is looking quite similar to what we saw last week," Burke said.

State Civil Defense officials also surveyed and removed debris from many other locations, including Kahuku Bridge near Kahuku Hospital, Kawela Bridge between Kahuku and Turtle Bay, Waikane Bridge and streams in Waiahole Valley, said Ray Lovell, a Civil Defense spokesman.

Ka'a'awa resident Ula Halualani-Hee stood outside with her husband and two children yesterday, watching as National Guard units cleared rocks and other debris that had settled under the Makaua Stream bridge. A home near Halualani-Hee's, just along the stream, almost collapsed along with the bank, she said.

Standing just along the edge of the stream's new banks, Halualani-Hee looked down at the pile of rocks that now filled the widened stream bed.

"We had land before we had all these rocks," said Halualani-Hee, whose house is on the stream bank. "The transition is amazing."

Teixeira took to the skies again yesterday to survey damage, this time focusing on Waiahole and Waikane Valley. Overall, roads and schools tended to be intact, he said, with some minor repairs necessary. Two small farms in the area still appeared to be flooded and some crops may have been lost, he said.

Teixeira said clearing debris from under bridges and in drainage ditches is one of the top priorities, especially considering the weather expected this week.

At Makaua Stream, debris had collected in a pile so high that it was just inches away from blocking the entire space beneath the bridge, said Lt. Col. Anson Kimura of the Hawai'i Army National Guard.

"When we first got out there, large piles of rock and green waste were under the bridge that would block water flow," Kimura said.

Mary McDougall lives alongside the stream and said she watched terrified last week as water gushed down the valley past her home.

McDougall, who lives on Huamalani Street, said the "stream banks all just got sucked into" the brown, churning waters. The stream, once about 10 feet wide, had nearly doubled in size after its banks collapsed under the force of the storm runoff, McDougall said.

"I had my stuff packed up (in an emergency bag) at the back door in case we needed to leave," McDougall said as she watched Army and Air National Guard personnel clear large rocks and other debris from the streambed yesterday.

The normally sandy beach just steps from Nicolette Davis' backyard was cluttered yesterday with driftwood, rocks, cabinets, an office chair and even a sink all debris that came down Makaua Stream, which reaches the ocean behind her home.

"We've been here for 10 years and we've seen all sorts of stuff, but never anything like this," said Davis, 62, as she toured the beach with her husband.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.