Machines to replace cops at Kilauea

Rod Haraga, director of the state Department of Transportation, said that portable traffic-signal devices will be shipped from O’ahu to Kaua’i on Tuesday. The devices will be placed on each end of the current one-lane Kuhio Highway over the Wailapa Stream.

The devices will move traffic along without having to have police officers or Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers on both ends of the one-lane road to wave traffic through, said Haraga.

“We want the police to do what they have to do,” said Haraga.

He pointed out that members of DOT crews are continuing to clean up bridges, culverts and streams on the North Shore.

During a press conference yesterday afternoon at the state Emergency Operating Center in Diamond Head Crater on O’ahu, Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general and director of the state Civil Defense Agency, said about 112 people filled out applications for financial aid to repair damage done in the aftermath of heavy rains on the island.

He also said National Weather Service forecasters indicated that there is a potential for a break in the weather around Tuesday.

Peter Young, chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, pointed out that the island’s dam-inspection report that was expected to be finished by Friday now has an anticipated completion date of the middle or end of this week.

He noted that the 54 dams on the island were inspected by DLNR engineers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff engineers.

After the inspections are done on Kaua’i, Young said that members of inspection teams will be going to Maui and the Big Island, then on to O’ahu.

Sandra Kunimoto, chairwoman of the state Board of Agriculture, estimated that about 50 applications were taken from people who went to neighborhood centers to apply for financial aid.

Kaua’i farmers sought help at Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers that were set up Friday at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, and Saturday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

Kunimoto pointed out that yields for different types of crops may decline as time goes on.

Right now, green, leafy produce is being affected, but damage to taro may show up many months later, she said.

Kunimoto also pointed out that a lot of farmers are not aware of how much damage the heavy rains did to their crops.

On Friday, Gov. Linda Lingle sent a request to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns to declare Kaua’i County and the City & County of Honolulu disaster areas due to crop damage that has occurred between Feb. 20 and Sunday.

A disaster declaration by Johanns would make farmers eligible for federal, low-interest loans.

The request was made based on preliminary data that has been collected by state and federal agriculture officials that meet the criteria of at least 30 percent crop losses on each island.

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