Neighbors near Koko Crater worried that boulder will fall on homes

Ryan Stone
Ryan Stone
Steve Martel
Steve Martel

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - An east Oahu neighborhood has been living under the threat of rockfalls for months, but the City of Honolulu says "they're safe".

Koko Crater is an old volcano, that's turned into a scenic site over the years. Hundreds of homes have been built at the base. And now this old volcano is causing new problems.

A row of residents living in Hawaii Kai are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Several months ago a huge boulder broke off the side of Koko Crater and neighbors worry it could end up in their homes.

"We think about it all the time, sometimes its hard to sleep back here knowing that it could eventually come down one of these days," said Ryan Stone, of Hawaii Kai.

Neighbors are not only concerned because of the big boulder looming overhead but also because there is nothing planned to lessen their danger -- anytime in the future.

Geologist Steve Martel, with the University of Hawaii has been concerned about rock falls at Koko Crater for years, because of the type of steep slopes exposed to the elements.

"The combination of the type of rock, steepness of slope and aging, causes the slopes to get weaker with time. That raises the potential for rock fall hazards," said Martel.

But that doesn't necessarily mean there will be another rock fall anytime soon.

"In many cases, its not crystal clear what's going to happen and when its going to happen," added Martel.

The City of Honolulu feels there is a low probability of the boulder rolling down and hitting the homes, and will only monitor the mountainside.

So residents are forced to wait. And watch the boulder above their homes.

Hoping it stays there for a long, long time.

"The city said it is not going to reach us, but you never know," said Stone.

While the city says it has reassured residents about their safety findings, neighbors are still nervous with the huge boulder -- so close to their homes.