FROM THE ARCHIVES: Restoring electricity after Iniki was no easy task

Restoring electricity after Iniki was no easy task
Mike Yamane
Mike Yamane

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Twenty years ago, the winds of Hurricane Iniki knocked down 5,000 utility poles on Kauai. Replacing them was a monumental task for the Kauai Electric Company, as it was known then.

To speed up the process, they used helicopters, working in tandem with linemen on the ground. Mike Yamane was on the team that did the work, and helped explain the process.

"Every pole needs to be manned with a lineman up there, and they have what they call rollers on each pole with a clip on it that allows the helicopter to pretty much lower the line, get it clipped in to that roller and then pull it to the next pole clip it in. So it takes some maneuvering from the helicopter pilot to actually get that line clipped in. The reason you have a lineman on every pole is he needs to hold it there and they have to kind of tension the line so it has the right sag and the right length. And so that process goes on 3 times because there are 3 wires on the pole. So that's just in a nutshell what's going on there."

Getting all the poles up and the power back on to everyone on Kauai was going to take 6 months according to initial estimates, but with the help of HECO, MECO, HELCO and even crews from the mainland, the last circuit in Kalihiwai on Kauai's North Shore was energized in less than 3 months, just days before Thanksgiving.

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