Mudslide wipes out section of trail leading to Kalaupapa - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mudslide wipes out section of trail leading to Kalaupapa settlement

The Kalaupapa Trail damaged by a mudslide The Kalaupapa Trail damaged by a mudslide

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Access by land to the Kalaupapa Hansen's Disease settlement on Molokai has been cut off, after heavy rains seriously damaged a bridge on the trail leading to the isolated area.

The repairs are expected to take at least a month. For now, the Kalaupapa settlement can only be accessed by plane or boat.

"We've got all the resources on hand and everybody we can put at it right at this time," Mark Rentz, Kalaupapa National Historical Park maintenance chief, said. "We've got people even on the mainland working to get this together to get it open as soon as we can."

National Park Service officials say a downpour on Molokai this week triggered a mudslide that wiped out a section of the Kalaupapa Trail and destroyed a footbridge. That severed the link between the Hansen's Disease settlement and the rest of the island.

"We're not going to open it up until it's safe for people to pass," Rentz said.

The popular mule rides on the narrow, winding trail have been suspended until a structural engineer can deem the area safe. Workers are scrambling to make temporary repairs.

"We're doing emergency stabilization right now just for emergency passage," Rentz said.

Park officials say they're putting together an emergency storm damage contract, so work on a permanent replacement for the bridge can get underway. Early estimates put the cost at about $150,000.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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