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Letter for Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Better coordination needed for Hanalei access

Aloha School Early Learning Center in Hanalei has 32 children.

Today (March 29), a flash-flood warning went into effect while Kuhio Highway at Hanalei hill was closed.

I called Larry Dill of the Kaua‘i state Transportation Department and got his voicemail, which was full. Called the office. Shelly referred me to Willy Ortal, who was very concerned for our children and referred me to Randall Haraguchi, who called someone immediately to open the road to let parents through to pick up their child/ren from school.

Unfortunately, by this time the road closed by KPD and parents in cars were in line, including the school bus with Hanalei School children. Some were in line at the top of the hill trying to get to Hanalei to pick up their child/ren, some were in Hanalei, along the river, waiting in line to get across.

Needless to say, it was chaotic and stressful with the river rushing next to the road.

When a flash-flood happens again, what is the protocol with the limited road access for emergencies?

Please help us by getting a plan in place. Would you like your young child to be on the other side of the river overnight or possibly longer? This is very stressful for young children and parents.

The repair of the landslide and Kuhio highway is important, but getting children to school and back so our parents may go to work is also important.

The safety of our children and families is important, also. During the 45-minute window for parents to get children from school, traffic is lined up past Princeville and at times to Kilauea.


Our teachers and parents have called Dill to either extend access hours or have parents bringing their children to and from school with priority access, possibly with a sticker or placard for their cars.

As mentioned in the schedule, the afternoon hours were put in place for Hanalei School hours. Aloha School’s schedule has been changed to reflect the access hours, and parents are carpooling, but still some do not make it across.

Why can nothing be done? Extend hours or placards for parents? If the road is opened for school hours, why not open the road just for schools?

Please help our families and children by extending the access time or giving parents placards for priority access.

A big mahalo nui loa to Shelly, Willy Ortal and Randall Haraguchi! All were empathetic and tried to help. I urge anyone out there to speak out for our keiki and families regarding this issue. The traffic will only get worse on April 5.


Leona Blankley, Aloha School, Princeville

  1. Hanalei employee March 31, 2021 6:28 am Reply

    It’s not only the kids in school it’s also everyone who works in Hanalei. Just like you we deal with this as well. We have kids waiting on the other side for us if we get stuck. This landslide inconvenience problem is not exclusive to any group. Many Princeville residents now send their kids to Kilauea School for just the reason of the Hanalei river flooding. Maybe call off school when there is a flash flood warning and not wait for the river to flood? Personally I’m looking for a job on the other side.

  2. james March 31, 2021 6:39 am Reply

    This is tricky. Everyone knows that access to Hanalei can be interrupted at a moment’s notice. The road closes many times per year. Parents who send kids on the other side of the landslide and the river must anticipate the closing of the road and maybe not send their kids to school on the days where weather threatens to close access. I’m not sure what the writer wants government to do, other than build a larger bridge that will be passable regardless of the amount of rain and flooding. If the road is passable but limited, maybe granting priority to parents is a reasonable solution, but is really just a band aid. If the road is closed due to flooding or a landslide, the road is closed and parents must make other arrangements for their kids.

  3. Hysterical Road March 31, 2021 6:50 am Reply

    This inconvenience is a symptom of what you get when you decide to have an hysterical road. DOT has their hands tied. They’re not allowed to upgrade or fix it. You don’t matter. The heritage road is far greater than your concerns, inconvenience or safety. Live with it or get out is the message.

  4. Gordo March 31, 2021 8:00 am Reply

    Well said, Leona! Larry Dill is in quite a pickle! Don’t be sour, Larry, be sweet and chippy.

  5. Jjjames March 31, 2021 10:31 am Reply

    Suggestion: evacuate and shut down the entire hanalei/Haena area until the road is completely repaired and safe. Put the families up in our partially empty hotels. (If the feds can do this for illegal aliens…). ???? Of course, everyone must have the “freedom of choice”! Like they had when they decided to live there in the first place. Or when they decided to send their kids to school there.

  6. Norm Smith March 31, 2021 3:14 pm Reply

    Let’s not forget tsunamis

  7. Steve Martin April 3, 2021 9:13 am Reply

    The north shore has always been and will continue to be subject of inconvenience when it comes to extreme flooding style weather. If you don’t like it then move and stop the bitching. You can’t blame anyone for your own stupidity period. Sorry about your bad luck!!! Knowing what we have known about it tells me we should have thought that it may not be a good idea for the welfare of people to live out there when such conditions will always exist. The entire area should have been designated to be a public park for all to enjoy when the weather is nice!

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