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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Soggy Hau'ula piling up sandbags

 •  'Sizable disaster' threat

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

Rebel Takemoto, 11, loaded sandbags into a truck at his Hau'ula home last night. The Takemoto family helped distribute sandbags provided by the church next door.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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HAU'ULA Residents here filled more than 2,000 sandbags and helped neighbors yesterday as they braced for more rain today in an area already beleaguered by ponding, mushy yards and mud.

People were especially busy on Hau'ula Homestead Road, which received the brunt of Wednesday night's storm, surprising residents when a 6-inch wall of water jumped the Ma'akua Stream bank and poured down their street.

"We're ready," said Elton Kaahu, 50, of Hau'ula Homestead Road. "We got the sandbags. We dug a trench all around the back yard and we barricaded."

By noon yesterday, Kaahu and his neighbors had dozens of sandbags at critical locations around their homes and on the street to divert anticipated flows. Nearby, members of the Ohana Family of the Living God church were giving away sandbags they have filled.

Kaahu said he tried to hold the stream back Wednesday night by parking two old trucks in the path of water. He placed plywood boards against the trucks and braced them with 100 sandbags. It helped, he said, but water still poured in from the stream, flowing under his home and rushing toward the ocean, filling yards and carrying away tons of dirt and grass.

Andrew Chase, 41, stayed home yesterday and prepared for another day of rain. He collected sandbags from the church and delivered them to neighbors.

He had already secured his driveway and a shipping container that sat outside his home. Beneath the container, water flowed in a rutted-out channel that was so deep and wide the back wheel and a front brace were sitting on the edge of the washed-out groove.

"We have a stream in the front of the house now," Chase said, adding that his problem was nothing compared to neighbors who reported flooded homes and backed-up toilets.

Chase, who had about 30 bags of sand ready to deliver, said he would take another 30 to 50 bags to neighbors, but wasn't sure how much that would help.

"It's just human nature to do what you can to fight," he said. "You can't win."

The sandbags were donated by construction unions and businesses. City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz and state Sen. Clayton Hee organized the giveaway, setting up distributions at Kualoa Ranch and next door to the Ohana church, at 54-058 Hau'ula Homestead Road. Bags will also be distributed today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Punalu'u yesterday, a private contractor was once again clearing debris from beneath Punalu'u Bridge. Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the company finished the job Wed-nesday but heavy rain that night brought more junk and by 11 p.m. the bridge was clogged again.

"It was all the stuff from upstream," he said. "We're back to square one."

The Swanzy Head Start program in Ka'a'awa sent children home early, said teacher Dorothy Mahoney. School officials worried about teachers and children being stranded at the beachside school if roads flood.

"I just don't want to be stuck here," Mahoney said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.