‘A different kind of disaster’

Disaster-response officials today continue to care for fellow disaster-response workers in what Judith “Judy” Lenthall of the Kauai Food Bank is calling “a different kind of disaster.”

Normally, after a disaster, efforts are centered on caring for victims.

The families of the two confirmed dead and the five or more missing notwithstanding, this is a disaster without many victims, calling for a more-tailored disaster response, she said.

American Red Cross officials are taking advantage of the situation to train volunteers to man shelters, and Kauai Food Bank and The Salvation Army officials have mobilized “grab-and-run” feeding sites for disaster workers, with much help from owners, operators and chefs of eateries including Duke’s Canoe Club, Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, and others, she added.

Feeding sites for disaster workers are open daily and staffed by Kauai Food Bank and The Salvation Army volunteers from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at various sites around the island, including the one-lane section of Kuhio Highway near Kilauea she refers to as “Ground Zero.”

Volunteers at the sites will continue offering free meals to disaster-response workers, including those on state and county road crews, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Police Department, county Department of Public Works, county Department of Water, state Civil Defense, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, American Medical Response, and others.

Those with The Salvation Army mobile canteen are offering hot drinks and snacks, and chefs, owners and operators of restaurants who have prepared, hot foods, may call the Kauai Food Bank, 246-3809, and food-bank people will come and pick up the food and get it to the disaster-response workers, Lenthall said.

The disaster feeding centers will remain open until the rain stops, she added.

“We are so blessed to have Capt. Mitham Clement and Lt. Larry Groenleer” of The Salvation Army, she said.

Feeding sites are the Friendship Club in Kapa‘a, Hanapepe Salvation Army, Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, Lihue Salvation Army, Church of the Pacific in Princeville, and Kilauea Neighborhood Center.

This is a partnership between officials of the Kauai Food Bank, The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the Church of the Pacific, and Friendship Club, said Lenthall, executive director of the Kauai Food Bank.

Classes were canceled yesterday at Kaua‘i Community College, and may be canceled today, too, a University of Hawai‘i spokesperson said in a press release. To check on class status today, call 245-8311.

On a statewide and national basis, lawmakers are calling for studies of dams, streams and drainage canals in Hawai‘i, and dams across the United States, and members of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved at a special meeting yesterday authorization for representatives of the state Department of the Attorney General to go onto private property to inspect dams and reservoirs on the island.

State law gives BLNR members authority over dams and reservoirs, including those on private property, according to a press release.

State Rep. Ken Ito, chair of the House Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs, as co-originator with state Rep. Sylvia Luke, introduced resolutions requesting state officials to conduct studies on all public and private dams, streams and drainage channels across the state, Ito said in a press release.

United States Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, joined U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, in introducing legislation to improve the safety of the nation’s dams by establishing a federal program to assist officials of states in rehabilitating publicly-owned dams that pose risks to public safety.

The Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act is the Senate companion to H.R. 1105, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly, R-New York, and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-urban O‘ahu, and U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O‘ahu.

“Storms which struck my home state of Hawai‘i in recent weeks remind us that the devastation wrought by the collapse of a dam is often severe and tragic,” stated Akaka in a press release.

“All too often, these catastrophic collapses come with little or no warning, leaving those in the path of flooding with little opportunity to avoid danger,” said Akaka.

“Dam safety is an often neglected aspect of our homeland security,” according to Akaka.

“While we plan for the possibility that terrorists may attack our infrastructure, we often fail to fully recognize that such infrastructure is subject to the forces of nature and, therefore, prone to the effects of age and wear,” Akaka continued.

“Just as we must guard against attacks on our critical infrastructure, we must also be attentive to its maintenance.”

Akaka is a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@kauaipubco.com.

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