HANALEI — Gov. David Ige spent Thursday morning learning about the impacts of April’s flooding on the North Shore.
“I wanted a chance to listen and meet with you,” Ige told the members of Kauai Flood Kokua, which is the core of volunteers organizing cleanup efforts. “We’re trying to think about what ongoing activity is happening and how to respond to what the needs are in each area.”
He reviewed maps, met with keiki and teachers, and toured the area. Later, he met with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to release $25 million for flood relief.
It’s the first installment of $31.2 million in state money that will be spread over 90 projects islandwide on a list submitted to the governor by the county.
Thursday’s letter of agreement, signed by both parties in Carvalho’s office, triggers the transfer of disaster funds for county flood response, relief and recovery projects.
That includes road work, bridge repairs, and debris pick up, and repairs to parks and public facilities. The county will submit monthly reports to the state director of finance. Additional funds may be transferred to Kauai County upon completion of projects in the initial phase of the recovery plan.
“We are so grateful for this funding provided by Gov. Ige and our legislators,” Carvalho said. “This is just another phase of teamwork from all of our partners to provide the people of Kauai the resources they need to recover from the devastating April flood.”
The county-submitted estimates allot $1.5 million to install a new concrete box culvert and replace drainage infrastructure on Kahiliholo Road; $2.8 million for a complete reconstruction of 450 feet of Weke Road near Black Pot Beach; and $2.2 million for Wainiha’s Powerhouse Road repair and stabilization.
The money is the result of SB 192, known as the Kauai and Oahu flood recovery bill, approved May 10. In total, the measure set aside $125 million for recovery efforts — $100 million for flood recovery on Kauai and $25 million for Oahu.
The Kauai Flood Kokua used Ige’s visit as an opportunity to share their ideas for a pathway forward and how the state’s appropriated money could be used to strengthen the economy and the community.
“Jobs and work crews would help pick people up,” said Koral McCarthy. “We went around to families and 85 percent of the families said work is the biggest need right now — jobs.”
The group’s plan is to create those jobs out of the community needs that are currently being met by volunteers.
“It’s things like keeping the stream systems clean and our dunes, they’re important with sea level rise. We have landslide areas that need to be planted, and could be with oho’a,” said Mehana Vaughn, who has been working with Kauai Flood Kokua.
McCarthy pointed out the need to address cesspools, as well.
“It has always been an issue, but when the flood happened, the cesspools just popped and there was a fine layer over the whole town,” she said. “That’s why we had to have rubber boots.”
Ige went over the notes and asked if they’d done any research into whether enough people were interested in taking those kinds of jobs to make the effort worthwhile.
He got a resounding yes.
“You don’t even have to find them, we have their information,” said Mina Morita.
The list of initial disaster recovery efforts allots $1.1 million for County of Kauai personnel, and another $75,000 for Department of Water personnel. Supplies, services and contracts is estimated at $1.2 million.
“We’re trying to see what activities we can do with the funds and think about how we will try to support that activity,” Ige said. “It’s terrific work to meet and talk about it as a community.”