Ige issues disaster declaration for Waimea landslide
LIHU‘E — Gov. David Ige has signed an emergency proclamation for the Jan. 4 landslide in Waimea that blocked Menehune Road and isolated at least 24 families who live in the area.
The landslide cut off critical communications infrastructure and damaged the historic Waimea swinging bridge.
“The blocked roadway, hazardous conditions and the lack of communications infrastructure threaten the safety and welfare of a significant number of residents in the area,” Ige said in a statement. “This emergency proclamation serves to provide relief from disaster damages and losses and protect our residents and visitors.”
Meanwhile, the hillside above Menehune Road remains unstable and has forced the delay of road-repair work because of hazardous conditions caused by falling rocks and other debris.
County contractors began rockfall-mitigation work Friday, which included airlifting drilling equipment and materials to the slope above the roadway.
Initial side-slope boulder and rock removal began Saturday. Part of the mitigation work will include forcing large boulders off the slope and onto the road. Work will continue daily, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officials anticipate it will take approximately three weeks to remove all rockfall hazards.
The emergency proclamation gives the governor authority to spend state funds as appropriated to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors on Kaua‘i. The declaration supports state and county efforts to provide quick and efficient relief of suffering, damage and losses caused by the landslide.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to work on opening an alternate emergency access route via all-terrain vehicle from Waimea Canyon Drive, located on State Forest Reserve land.
This access will serve as an emergency route for officials to deliver food and other urgent supplies to residents. It will not be open for public access until officials can deem the route safe for larger vehicles. The county is in communication with DLNR, and will provide updates on public-access plans.
The disaster-emergency-relief period continues through March 7, unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation.
The whole valley almost north of the bridge is under threat of a major rock slide. The county knows this but it’s just too expensive to shore up 1 million tonnes of rock. It would not take much to shake the rock wall down and destroy all those homes. This is a tragedy waiting to happen. And this news slide is a warning. Incredible but mother nature don’t care.