Volunteers create their own manpower to clean clogged stream

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents near a stretch of Palolo Stream by Saint Louis School took matters into their own hands Saturday after being told the city didn't have enough personnel to clean the stream.

Organizers of the "Clean the Canal" event said the stream beneath the bridge leading from Waialae Avenue to the school hadn't been cleaned up in five years.

The effort was spearheaded by residents at the nearby Regency Park condominiums. They said they were tired of looking at a stream bed choked with rubbish and overgrown with weeds, which they said could become a flooding threat.

"What we were always afraid of was the garbage and the debris and the foliage stopping the flow of water," said organizer Lee Manfredi.

She said when they asked the city to clean it up, they were told they would have to do it themselves.

"The city is so busy repaving and repairing the roads, they said they had no manpower to give us," she said.

The manpower came from residents, community groups, and students from Saint Louis School -- nearly 40 people in all.

"It's about being a good neighbor," said Errol Christian, the school's community service director. "Palolo Stream runs around the property, so when Lee called us and asked us to volunteer we said no problem."

"The place was just, like, awful," said student James Boulware, who helped with the cleanup. "I never really realized it until I got down here."

Organizers said the cleanup was supposed to happen a month ago, but it was delayed by a flash flood watch. The threat of flooding pushed them to get the work done.

"Bags and bags or garbage picked up. Rubbish and weeds and everything chopped down," said Manfredi.

The city may not have had the manpower, but it did supply the tools, the gloves, the garbage bags, and a truck, which had to make at least three trips to get rid of all the debris picked up by the volunteers.

Manfredi said she'll organize another cleanup when its needed.

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