Stream debris gets cleared in Makaha
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
The National Guard has removed tons of debris that created a massive dam on Eku Stream in Makaha Valley that, if left alone, could have caused serious flooding during the next heavy rain.
The work is part of an effort by state Civil Defense and the National Guard to address the worst debris clogs in streams that could lead to flooding in Wai'anae and the North Shore.
Water from Eku Stream caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage during the Dec. 11 storm, and people there were living in fear of the next downpour because of the dam and the potential threat of another flood, said Robin Heath, a Makaha Valley resident.
"It was certainly a shadow looming over our heads," said Heath, who sustained about $100,000 in damage to his home when Eku Stream overflowed.
Civil Defense and the National Guard are working to clear four of the worst stream problems on the Wai'anae Coast and next week will concentrate on the North Shore, said Ron Oliveros, state Civil Defense debris action officer.
Eku posed the greatest threat so it was the first to be addressed, Oliveros said. Yesterday, a front-end loader and dump truck easily handled a problem that could have overwhelmed residents if they had to do it by hand, he said.
"This has potential for loss of property or continued property damage if another event occurred like we saw on the 11th of December," Oliveros said. "Certainly if the right conditions exist, it could also risk lives."
Other streams that will be cleared are Ma'ili'ili-Pu'uhulu and Kaupuni-Kawiwi. The National Guard estimated it would cost $441,500 to complete the work in Wai'anae.
Civil Defense wants to organize the community for a stream cleanup day, to bring awareness and educate the public, Oliveros said.
State Rep. Maile Shimabukuro, D-45th (Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua), said getting the dam removed was critical for her constituents who put their lives on hold because they feared the dam.
"A family of seven is living in one room, the only room in the house that didn't flood, since Dec. 11," Shimabukuro said. "There's people where everything is still in suspense, sandbags all around their houses. They're not putting things back in their rooms because they are so afraid of it happening again."
Some residents have contributed to the problem by dumping in streams, not cleaning their portion of the stream and in some cases damming streams for roadways, she said.
"It's been a real wake-up call for everyone that we really have to take care of our streams," Shimabukuro said.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org.