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Massive flood cleanup set for Saturday

  • Photo submitted by Surfrider

    Heather O’Donnell prepares to pick up debris from the beach at Waikoko after floods swept household items onto the northern shores of Hanalei Bay.

  • Photo submitted by Surfrider

    Flooding waters swept household items onto the northern shores of Hanalei, and multiple agencies, individuals and businesses are holding cleanups Saturday to help.

ANAHOLA — Torn photos of loved ones, mangled lunchboxes and broken refrigerators still litter the rocky Waikoko coastline, and much of the North Shore.

“Yesterday we got a truckload of plastic and a variety of things,” said Barbara Wiedner, chair of the Kauai Surfrider Chapter. “It’s not regular marine debris we’re finding now, it’s personal items, pieces of houses.”

And while the items are a reminder of the catastrophic flood that destroyed dozens of homes and have been hailed an eyesore for Kauai’s pristine beaches, the debris is also dangerous.

“Friday we’re at PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) doing Earth Day with the kiddos, and they’ve canceled the beach cleanup,” Wiedner said.

Booths and educational activities will still be in full swing at Majors Bay for the annual Earth Day celebration.

“I had a kids’ cleanup for Earth Day scheduled with the little ones on Thursday, too, and we had to cancel,” Wiedner said. “With all the wood and the debris, it’s just a bad idea.”

That cleanup was scheduled with the Kapaa third-grade classes and included a field trip to the Kilauea Lighthouse to complete a round of lessons on the lifecycle of the Laysan albatross.

Kristina Kenegos, Kapaa Elementary teacher, seconded Wiedner’s decision to halt the kids’ cleanup and reschedule for early May.

“The beach is not safe right now. Big pieces of wood, strong river, and it’s supposed to rain again,” Kenegos said.

While some beach cleanups have shut down because of safety risks, Earth Day celebrations are turning into community cleanups all over Kauai as the island adjusts to life after the flood.

Kauai’s Surfrider Chapter, for instance, was going to host a Saturday Earth Day beach cleanup celebration at Kitchens in Kapaa, complete with activities for the keiki, until record rainfall drenched the island.

Kapaa Crossfit, B-Rad Foundation and Aloha Kauai have jumped on board to host the event.

“While we love the beaches, it’s time to help the neighborhoods,” Wiedner said. “We can’t go clean the beach when we have ohana that really needs help, so we’re diverting the big Earth Day cleanup to Anahola neighborhood.”

Thursday, Wiedner was sharing the details of Saturday’s Anahola cleanup while digging through the mud in Keapana Valley.

“We’re working on our fourth truck load of stuff out of the valley,” she said Wednesday morning. “I’ve got a really motivated crew out here. Ohana Health Care nurses are here cleaning everything.”

Saturday, Surfrider’s tent will be set up from 8 a.m. to noon by the river in Anahola. From there, they’ll be sending out two groups of workers — one group to help clean up the neighborhood in Anahola and another to Waikoko.

“The Hanalei Canoe Club is devastated, there’s stuff up there that two people can’t get. We’re going to need help,” she said.

For the Anahola neighborhood cleanup, bring gloves and boots, but also chainsaws, pickup trucks and other equipment to move heavy logs and other debris.

“I went through Hanalei and up to Waikoko and saw nothing like what I saw in Anahola,” Wiedner said. “There’s homes surrounded with natural debris and logs.”

Parking will be tight on Saturday at the Anahola staging site, so Surfrider recommends carpooling.

•••

Jessica Else, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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