LIHUE — April’s historic flooding brought in about 70,000 cubic yards of sand to Hanalei Bay, according to a study from the University of Hawaii. That damaged Weke Road, destroyed the comfort station at Black Pot Beach and left erosion up to 12 feet deep in some areas.
Since the disaster, the county has been chasing funds to repair these damages, but it’s been a challenge, said Doug Haigh, head of the county Department of Public Works Building Division.
“First we had a pocket of county funds, then we had state funds and finally we have gotten the FEMA declaration and we have FEMA funds for these projects,” he told the County Council’s Public Works, Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Thursday.
Haigh told the council it would cost over $200 per cubic yard to truck in crushed coral, the appropriate fill for the area. So instead, they’re looking into getting a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge in sand.
The Army Corps of Engineers is prioritizing the permit and is hoping to have it finalized this week.
“For the eroded areas, we’re looking at about 10,000 cubic yards of material; we think it’s readily available,” Haigh said.
The county is looking for firms experienced in sand dredging and have found three. Haigh hopes the bids will go out this week.
As far as reconstruction of Weke Road, the county is looking at mitigation measures to minimize the impact if there’s a similar storm event in the future.
“It’s really hard, because nobody knows what is the risk of such a storm event occurring again,” Haigh said.
“The flood, the river, was at a 70-year flood. The valley and the rain was over a 500-year flood and if you look at the videos of what occurred, it wasn’t the river jumping the bank, it was the valley filling with water and the water finding the low point in Hanalei, which happened to be by our park, and it just started eroding away our soil, probably from the ocean side back.”
Haigh said the county is looking at a special retaining wall system that uses geo-fabric and compaction methodology, and a concrete road instead of an asphalt road that will give good resistance to erosion.
“Hopefully that will help protect our parklands,” he said.
The county is working on a proposal on construction of the comfort station, which qualifies for FEMA as well as insurance funds.
Reconstruction of the comfort station is estimated to cost about $1 million. It will be placed on the highest point in the park, Haigh said.
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or email@example.com.