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Residents, visitors still stranded on both sides

Residents and visitors remain stranded on either side of Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of Kilauea, with a “panic city” created at Princeville Airport yesterday afternoon when hundreds of people, mostly visitors, flocked there to try to catch Heli USA Airways helicopter flights to Lihu’e Airport to catch flights out of Kaua’i.

Manager Rich Johnson said they had made at least a dozen flights from Princeville Airport to Lihu’e Airport as of around 1:30 p.m. yesterday, and it was “panic city” at Princeville Airport with people, mostly visitors, eager to catch flights out of Lihu’e Airport.

Though there were no takers as of early yesterday afternoon, Johnson offered transportation to emergency personnel like those from the Kaua’i Police Department and Kaua’i Fire Department, and Civil Defense, as well as American Red Cross volunteers and officials, he said.

Out of concern for travelers who are experiencing difficulties due to heavy rains on Kaua’i, Aloha Airlines officials yesterday relaxed rules and restrictions on travel from Lihu’e Airport, said Stu Glauberman, airline spokesperson.

State Rep. Mina Morita, D-Hanalei-Kapa’a, issued the following statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the people missing after the dam burst, as well as with those who have lost their homes and their agribusinesses in the flooding.

“At this time, my office is helping to make sure that the repairs to the highway are done as quickly as possible, and that all resources are available for the search and rescue, as well as the overall recovery effort,” said Morita.

“After we know that our people are cared for, it’s important that we fully reconstruct the events leading to this disaster.”

United States Coast Guard personnel responded to the flooding and missing-persons reports with “several assets,” including two HH65 Dolphin helicopters, a C-130 aircraft, searching for three people believed to be in the water somewhere along Kilauea Stream or in the area of the mouth of Kilauea Bay, said Michael De Nyse, a petty officer and Coast Guard spokesperson.

Coast Guard rescuers from the Nawiliwili station rescued one person near Kaloko Reservoir, and that person was transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital. The condition of the person was not immediately available, De Nyse said.

Lani Yukimura, Wilcox Memorial Hospital spokesperson, though, said no people believed to have been injured or killed in the flood-related events were brought to the hospital’s emergency room.

The USCG cutter Washington was expected in waters off Kilauea by around 4 p.m. yesterday, to aid in search efforts, De Nyse added.

Tom Clements, spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, said PMRF officials were contacted by USCG leaders to identify assets available to aid in search-and-rescue efforts if needed.

Clements said two PMRF helicopters were ready and available.

A water main along Wailapa Road broke, so residents in the area are urged to conserve water, according to county officials.

Those affected by the waterline break are being served with portable water by county Department of Water personnel.

Hawai’i Community Foundation officials announced they have established a fund for those impacted by the flooding at Kilauea, and they will be making a donation into that fund as well.

The Kaua’i Island Fund was established to assist individuals affected by the flooding on the island of Kaua’i, particularly those individuals and families impacted by yesterday’s over-flow of the Kaloko Reservoir dam in Kilauea.

“The needs of the people on Kaua’i impacted by the breech of the Kaloko Reservoir dam will be immediate,” said HCF President and Chief Executive Officer Kelvin H. Taketa.

“A Kaua’i Island Fund has been established at the Hawai’i Community Foundation as a means for the community here, and outside of our state, to quickly respond to these needs and their longer-term needs, as well.”

Donations should be made payable to: The Kaua’i Island Fund and sent to the Hawai’i Community Foundation, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 800, Honolulu, HI 97813-2817.

For more information or questions, contact HCF’s Communications Officer Kim Vierra at 1-808-387-2117.

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closed yesterday, and if the highway remains closed, will likely be closed today, a spokesperson said.

Mike Mitchell, assistant project leader of the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex, announced the closure.

The popular tourist destination was closed due to visitor safety concerns stemming from the heavy rains.

Bob Dieli, supervisory outdoor recreation planner, said, “We are concerned about the ongoing incident on Kuhio Highway just south of Kilauea town. With emergency services engaged with that situation, we don’t want to expose visitors to the danger if we had an accident or injury on the refuge and EMS (emergency medical services) would not be able to respond in a normal time frame.”

Mitchell advises to call ahead today to check to see if the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is open.

Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except for federal holidays. The phone number to confirm operations is 828-1413.

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