Disaster and hope
TGI reporter Jessica Else shares perspective of the situation in Hanalei after bridge opens
HANALEI — A white Jeep was plunged nose-down in the taro patch by the Bike Doktor in Hanalei on Monday afternoon.
A little further downtown, the sign for Na Pali Coast Boat Tours hung haphazardly on a broken chain. The road to Black Pot Beach Park was blocked by Kauai Police Department as giant sinkholes now dot the parking lot, filled with their own overturned cars.
A house on Hanalei Bay is now caved in the center, chairs and other furniture floating in a pool of water that nearly covers the lanai.
One resident said he thought it looked like a river just opened up and tried to swallow the house. I thought that was a pretty accurate description as I picked my way around boulders and precarious pieces of sod to get a better view of the collapsed building.
That’s not the only house that went down in the storm, either. There are homeowners all over Kauai’s North Shore that lost everything in the last few days.
Kuhio Highway and the Hanalei Bridge reopened in the early afternoon on Monday, after days of torrential rains flooded Kauai. Driving through, the Haraguchi Taro fields put the devastation into perspective. They sit just past the bridge, and were encompassed in a massive mud puddle with a swollen Hanalei River matching their color.
In the midst of rivets of mud and debris laden grass that lined the highway, two nene grazed enthusiastically, their heads barely visible above sticks, logs and pieces of plastic.
Their fervor was matched by the rest of Hanalei’s residents, who were stepping out of their homes and shelters, stretching their legs and surveying the damage. Neighbors swapped stories from car windows, volunteering what help they could and accepting what help they needed.
At Hanalei Bay, several boats and Jet Skis carried supplies beyond Hanalei, where people are still stranded and several cases of beer made it over along with water and food, thanks to the folks in Hanalei.
Some people looked nervously at the sky as the afternoon wore on, wondering if another rain would close the road again, but most said they were thankful it was just one closure between them and the rest of the island.
Those living in Wainiha and Ha’ena are still cut off from the rest of the island by multiple landslides, and efforts are ongoing to make sure they’ve got enough food and water.
Hanalei, which remains a disaster zone, is also a sanctuary and the stage for relief efforts for those who were hit worse. ••• Jessica Else, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.
This house, on Hanalei Bay, was one of several damaged in the thunderstorms that drenched Kauai.