NIU VALLEY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Haleola Street in Niu Valley is a very quiet neighborhood. The residents keep to themselves, and are camera-shy. But a lot of them said they will be leaving their homes this weekend for what may be a welcome disruption.
That disruption will come as crews hired by the state start to remove a large boulder on the ridge above their homes. It doesn't look that big, and is about six feet wide. But its estimated to weigh seven to ten tons.
Residents don't have to imagine it rolling down into the houses below. It's happened before.
"About a third of that boulder came down, and the remaining two thirds is still up there," said Rep. Mark Hashem (D - Hahaione, Niu Valley, Aina Haina, Kahala). "The first portion fell in 2008, and that's how attention came to this issue."
The three-foot high portion of the boulder bounced over a backyard fence and sideswiped one of the Haleola Street homes. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Hashem, who took office just last November, made it a priority to get something done about the boulder.
"When I got into office, this was a dead issue," he said. "Nobody was taking care of this. Everybody on this street knew about this existing, and they tried to mitigate it before. And it didn't get resolved."
Funding was approved in this year's state legislature, and engineers went up the mountain to look at the boulder. They said it had become so dangerous that something had to be done immediately.
Hashem has been talking with the residents in 28 homes that are under a mandatory evacuation order that begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and ends Sunday at 7 p.m. They'll have to leave their homes while crews put a net around the boulder, and then move it to a more stable position. Then, they plan to break it into smaller pieces and haul it away.
Residents told us, off-camera, that they will obey the evacuation order, and leave.
"I believe they are," Hashem said. "I mean, I would. Look at the boulder up there. It's a very dangerous situation and the boulder could come down any day."