It could be months before reconstruction starts on Hanalei’s Weke Road — the sinkhole is still there and the road is still closed after April floods wiped it out.
Signs are placed along the Black Pot stretch pointing out the places where only local traffic is allowed, and where the road is completely closed.
Handmade signs accompanying the county’s say things like “We don’t walk through your yard, do we!’ and directing people to the pavilion for beach access.
In May, acting County Engineer Lyle Tabata said plans are to reconstruct the road, and that once the permits are issued, the county will begin construction.
Friday, Tabata confirmed the county is still working on the project.
“The county continues to be in the engineering, permitting and procurement process for the reconstruction of Black Pot Beach and Weke Road,” Tabata said.
Meanwhile, residents are getting their feet back under them after the mid-April storm that flooded many parts of Kauai.
“It was raining bullets. Crazy, like something you’ve never seen before,” said Phillip Soltren, who lives in Wailapa. “Lightning was hitting in the yard.”
Raised on Kauai’s North Shore, Soltren has been working on many of the homes that line Weke Road for more than a decade.
Friday, he was checking in at a home near the mouth of the Hanalei River that escaped heavy flood damage by just a few feet.
“That river, when it flooded, it collapsed those houses next to it,” Soltren said. “It came right up to the edge of this one and sunk it down a little bit, but they already fixed that. She was lucky.”
While there are work crews in the houses along Weke Road and vehicles wandering up and down the road looking for parking, the beach park is deserted with overgrown patches of grass sticking up between sporadic orange fencing.
The restrooms fell into the river during the flood and the county has demolished the building, along with removing the vehicles that were flooded in the beach park.
“It’s weird not seeing people there, it’s like a deserted island,” Soltren said. “I grew up with people and families all over there.”
He hopes the county rebuilds the road and Black Pot Beach Park soon, but not turn it into the expanded park the county has planned.
The Department of Parks and Recreation’s $5 million Black Pot Beach Park plan has been through three community meetings and a draft master plan is now under county administration review.
“It’d be good if they built it up back to the way it’s been and not do the whole big beach park thing,” Soltren said. “Just make it back to the way the locals know it, the way it was.”
It should happen sooner than later, he says, because Hanalei is now the end of the road for visitors on the North Shore and “they have nowhere to go.”
Geoffrey Culverhouse, of the Ching Young Village, said his parking lot is overflowing.
“We’re all dried out and we’re all getting ourselves back together,” Culverhouse said Friday. “We’re getting happier and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is up there now. They’re helping out people that were hurt by the flood. There’s a lot more smiling faces up in Haena now.”
The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opened in Hanalei on June 29, and another one opened in Koloa. Four people have taken advantage of the Disaster Recovery Center in Koloa, while Hanalei’s has been busier.
Volunteers didn’t have an exact number on Friday, but said people on the North Shore are taking advantage of the FEMA center.
The rest of Hanalei was business as usual Friday, with a hodgepodge of visitors and locals wandering through food trucks and restaurants that dot Kuhio Highway.
The Dolphin restaurant is still closed after floodwaters from the Hanalei River swamped the building, and adjacent clothing stores are still offering a few sales on items that were damaged just enough to keep them from the rack.
Soltren pointed out that many of Kauai’s residents depend on visitors for at least part of their income and Culverhouse echoed the statement.
“We’d love for people to come up. People are finding places to park, it’s just a matter of looking around,” he said. “The beaches are busy and the weather is beautiful.”