At least 120 people in the isolated communities of Wainiha and Haena remain cut off from the rest of the island because of more than a dozen landslides.
(TNS) - More than a week after floodwaters ravaged homes, businesses, hillsides and roads, there is still no idea of the cost of the damage — or even a guess of how many structures were destroyed or left uninhabitable.
Assessment teams from Kauai County, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to fan out to the hardest-hit areas of Koloa on the south side, Anahola toward the east and Hanalei, Wainiha and Haena on the north shore, said HI-EMA spokeswoman Arlina Agbayani.
Before an application for financial help can be made to FEMA to begin the rebuilding process, Agbayani said, “we still need to gather as much data as we can. … It’s still unknown how many homes were damaged.”
What is known is that at least 120 people in the isolated communities of Wainiha and Haena — who remain cut off from the rest of the island because of more than a dozen landslides on Kuhio Highway — have been treated at a makeshift clinic at the Hanalei Colony Resort condominiums in Haena since Friday, said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai district health officer for the state Department of Health.
But even that number may be underreported, Berreman said.
“We’ve seen at least 120 people, but it’s probably higher, more like 150,” she said.
There are no specific numbers yet, Berreman said, but the most common treatments include “lots of tetanus boosters,” antibiotic prescriptions and care for “people getting cuts, stepping on things,” she said. “There are lots of small lacerations, skin wounds, skin rashes from known contaminated floodwater. There are lots of coughs and colds.”
To those in Wainiha and Haena, Berreman said, “If you’ve got a cut that’s starting to get red or oozy, this isn’t the time to tough it out. It’s the time to clean it properly.”
Children have likely been playing in stormwater and mud left behind by the receding floodwater, but “I’m not aware of any outbreak of diarrhea,” she said. “But that is certainly one of the risks.”
Mold continues to grow in flooded homes and can exacerbate respiratory problems, Berreman said.
Kauai County officials Monday were trying to figure out how to follow up on a pledge that Mayor Bernard Carvalho made Sunday to import badly needed fuel into Wainiha and Haena — and simultaneously remove garbage that’s been piling up for more than a week.
Carvalho told the more than 400 people who attended Sunday’s meeting at the Hanalei Colony Resort that each household would be receiving five gallons of fuel weekly.
But transporting fuel is “heavily regulated,” and importing it by helicopter seems unlikely because of safety concerns, said Kauai County spokeswoman Sarah Blane.
Helicopters could possibly “sling load” garbage out, she said.
“Our priority is getting waste out of there and getting fuel in,” Blane said.
The Kauai Emergency Management Agency said late Monday, “Public Works officials successfully collected bagged trash from Wainiha and Haena residents” Monday and that “fuel is being distributed to residents” in the isolated towns.
The two communities had been receiving supplies from a volunteer flotilla of small boats, personal watercraft and a barge provided by the Robinson family of Niihau, which made “two drops,” Blane said.
But with north shore surf reported at 6 feet Monday, “the barge is at the mercy of the ocean conditions,” Blane said.
Residents of Wainiha and Haena told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week that the two communities have roughly 200 to 300 full-time residents, with dozens more vacation rentals.
Blane said there are roughly 500 utility customers in the area, which would include vacation rentals.
On Monday work crews and heavy machinery continued to clear both ends of Kuhio Highway between Hanalei and Wainiha of tons of mud and debris. Kauai police and Hawaii National Guard soldiers are now posted to prevent unauthorized people on the damaged highway, Agbayani said.
People in all-terrain vehicles Sunday mistakenly thought they could navigate across the mud-covered highway and around crews and heavy equipment to get to Sunday’s community meeting, Blane said.
A “no-fly zone” also has been imposed in the area over Haena and Wainiha, making the area inaccessible to private or commercial helicopters.
Army Chinooks and Hawaii Army National Guard Black Hawks have returned to Oahu, but Kauai County does have the use of two “little bird” helicopters from its Fire Department for emergencies.
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