HAENA — Hundreds of people attended a community meeting at Opakapaka Bar and Grill Sunday to hear from county and state officials about resources available for Wainiha and Haena residents cut off after last weekend’s onslaught of torrential rains and flooding.
“They asked us how Kauai would deal with another storm or hurricane after Hurricane Iniki, and Kauai has come together,” said County Councilmember Derek Kawakami. “People from Koloa, Hanapepe and all across the island are here for you.”
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. began the meeting after prayers and a Hawaiian chant led by Haena resident Louise Sausen.
Among many commodities important to the landlocked residents, gasoline is at the top of the list. Applause and cheers filled the room when the mayor announced that each resident will be given five gallons of fuel per household per week and said, “We’ll even fill your vehicle at the site!”
There is also a plan in the works to help students. Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said the Department of Education is working on getting satellite schools set up for Haena and Wainiha students who cannot get to Hanalei to attend school.
Three teachers are available to teach the classes and could start as soon as this week.
Health officials announced that there is a health clinic being run out of Hanalei Colony Resort, next door to the restaurant, to help anyone in the area who needs medical attention.
Residents were also told that mail that used to go through the Hanalei Post Office is being directed to the Kilauea Post Office indefinitely.
Most residents currently have phone and internet service, but those who were still without were given information to help them get connected.
Deputy Director Ed Sniffen said the Hawaii Department of Transportation is continuing to clear off debris and mud from the many landslides covering Kuhio Highway.
He added that the highway will remain inaccessible by vehicle for the public until May 7, when one lane will be opened.
Up until now, residents have been concerned about being unable to dispose of their trash, but starting this week workers will be going to residents’ homes to collect trash.
The county has asked that residents do not bring their trash anywhere for disposal, and to instead leave their trash where it can be easily collected.
Another concern people have is that what the traffic will be like once the road reopens.
Sniffen said that non-residents will not be allowed to go through the construction zones while the department is clearing mud and debris from the landslides.
Holly Lewis of Haena suggested a way to keep non-residents from going into the construction zones: “I think if you just put a sticker that shows a person is a resident on their car, that would be helpful.”
Lewis said there were far too many cars on the road during the flooding, which didn’t help with the already stressful environment.
Kauai Police Department said that they are continuing to monitor and prevent looting, and though it has happened before, they have not had much trouble recently with incidents of looting.
Opakapaka Grill and Bar is providing free breakfast daily from 7-10 a.m. for the community.
YMCA Camp Naue in Haena is providing free dinners for the community as well.
Camp Naue has been serving as a food bank for flood victims.
The resort also has a temporary food bank that runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., located near the restaurant.