Debris removal next

Now that over two weeks have passed since the Ka Loko Reservoir dam breach and many emergency issues have been taken care of, county officials said in a press release that they have turned their attention to recovery and reconstruction efforts, including debris removal in the Wailapa area.

“The Ka Loko dam breach has left in its wake enormous amounts of debris which has impacted the Wailapa Stream and many residents in the affected area,” said Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste.

“We understand the sense of urgency in dealing with this situation.”

The mayor said that members of his administration continue working closely with state and federal officials on this issue, and a plan is being developed that will be implemented shortly.

“In discussions with representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we were informed that the county would likely be eligible for a debris-removal grant through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which is administered by NRCS,” said the mayor.

According to the literature provided by NRCS, the EWP program “was set up by (members of the U.S.) Congress to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters, and is designed to relieve imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, wind-storms, and other natural occurrences.”

County officials are planning to write a letter to NRCS leaders asking for assistance through the EWP program and simultaneously seek funds from the state Emergency Fund to match the EWP grant.

Residents living in the Wailapa area who are looking for assistance with debris removal as a result of the Ka Loko Reservoir dam breach may contact the NRCS Lihu’e office at 245-9014.

In another recent development, Gov. Linda Lingle announced that she has extended the state emergency proclamation through April 9.

Among other things, that means that state officials will be allowed to sidestep certain state laws in order to speed the repair and restoration of the section of Kuhio Highway in Kilauea that was damaged by the Ka Loko Reservoir failure of March 14, according to a state Department of Defense Civil Defense Division press release.

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