Post-storm rebuilding gives Kauai's North Shore residents a chance to reshape community

KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents of Wainiha and Haena gathered as a community Thursday to discuss what kind of future they envision for Kauai's north shore as the island continues to rebuild.

Kauai firefighter and Wainiha resident Eli Frank says before the flood, the island's North Shore was a hot spot for tourists as it was inundated with thousands of visitors (and their rental cars) every day.

The world-renowned Kalalau trail head and popular Kee Beach are both located in Haena State Park.

"After the flood, it went down to zero visitors here, and it really gave everyone a chance to see what it used to be like and it kinda was an eyeopener that maybe we can do something in between those two numbers," said Frank.

Frank says the purpose of the community-driven meeting is to come up with solutions to address the overcrowding, protect the environment and cultural sites, and allow residents to have better access in their own neighborhoods.

"Some of the things we're looking at that's doable is a mandatory shuttle system to go to Kee Beach, as well as enforcement to enforce our existing laws and no parking areas so that our neighborhoods and smaller streets don't have a continuous line of cars lining both sides of the road," Frank said.

Gregg Fraser who owns Opakapaka Grill and Bar in Wainiha agrees things need to change on the North Shore, but as a business owner, he's hesitant about suggested changes.

"How is the shuttle going to impact my customer base? How is that going to help to increase or decrease those customers? It's been a little bit tough having one of the only businesses actually open," said Fraser.

Frank says once they put together a proposal, the community will make a pitch to county officials.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho commends the residents for coming together on this issue.

"We have to find balance. Our tourism team members are working really diligently to find the balance. Getting that experience for our tourists and, of course, understanding the circumstances on the island," Carvalho said.

On Thursday, a massive fundraiser was held for flood victims on in Downtown Honolulu.

Organizers with the Aloha Kauai fundraiser say the event brought in $200,000 in additional relief funds.

"Although Kauai people are resilient, the success of 'Aloha Kauai' will go a long way in their recovery," said Kurt Osaki, one of the event co-organizers. "My friends and family on the island, who were impacted by last month's torrential rains, are doing the best they can to move forward, but for many residents in various parts of Kauai, it is going to be a long road back to normal."

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