Flood recovery continues

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Heavy equipment works to turn vegetative debris from the Wailua flood into mulch Wednesday in the Vidinha Stadium parking lot.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Heavy equipment feeds the hopper of the grinder converting vegetative debris from the Wailua weekend flooding into mulch Wednesday at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot.

LIHU‘E — Wood chipping has taken over the Vidinha Stadium parking lot as the state Department of Transportation continues to clear debris from the mouth of the Wailua River by the Kuhio Highway bridges and transport it to the stadium for further processing.

DOT representatives said Friday they could not confirm the amount of debris that has been transported or processed so far, but workers have been busy with the project since the March 28 rain event that triggered flooding and evacuations in Wailua.

Traffic is still reduced to one lane in both directions, routed along the makai bridge, so that crews can continue to remove debris from the bridge and stabilize the bridges.

Friday, a DOT spokesperson said preliminary assessments say the bridge structure is safe, but repairs are being planned to address erosion.

One of those repairs includes work on the concrete-reinforced masonry wall near the north abutment of the bridge.

The DOT will continue evaluating the bridges for safety in coming weeks, according to DOT.

Mayor Derek Kawakami signed an emergency proclamation Wednesday for the county to provide relief for disaster damages, losses and suffering, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people as a result of flash flooding during that rain event.

“Following Saturday’s flood that devastated many areas of our island, it is imperative that we as a community, now more than ever, support one another as we also continue to battle COVID-19,” Kawakami said in a release announcing the signing.

Kawakami and officials from the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency surveyed areas around Wailua Sunday to gauge the extent of damage from the Saturday flooding event caused by rain and severe thunderstorms.

Essential construction and repairs needed for damaged infrastructure and homes caused by the flood are permitted under the mayor’s emergency rule No. 5 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county is currently gathering information to evaluate eligibility for any federal or state assistance programs based on the extent of damage. Officials are encouraging people impacted by the flooding event to report their damages to KEMA using the online reporting tool at www.kauai.gov/kema, and clicking on the “March 2020 Flood Damage Report” tab. People can also call KEMA at 241-1800.

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