Civil Defense surveys flood hazards - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Civil Defense surveys flood hazards

Ed Teixeira Ed Teixeira
Harry Miller Harry Miller

By Zahid Arab bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  Heavy rains doused the islands in mid-December causing huge floods that devastated homes and destroyed lives.

As the chance of more severe weather creeps closer, State Civil Defense leaders look to lessen the chances of a repeat.

Just this week, President Bush declared that a major disaster exists in Hawaii and ordered federal assistance to aid the recovery effort.

That means anything from grants for home repairs to low-cost loans to cover uninsured property loss.

But, Civil Defense is going on the offense to make sure this time we're ready. It says recent flooding is some of the worst its seen in more than a decade.

With January one of the wettest months of the year, the agency is taking a proactive approach, solving problems before heavy rain makes it worse. And it turned to KHNL News 8 for an assist.

Hawaii State Civil of Defense searches for danger. With the aid of Chopper 8, they get an exclusive view of what December's devastating floods left behind.

"We'll be looking for timber, broken trees, or limbs that would cause flood debris dams," said Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira.

Heavy rains hit Hawaii hard, damaging roadways, schools, turning family dream homes into nightmares. Homes near Kipapa Gulch can't ever seem to get a break from floods.

Chopper 8 hovers over one of the areas hardest hit, the Leeward Coast. Waianae to Maile and Makaha, Civil Defense scans which natural streams need to be cleared.

"We've got to get after this debris, pull it out, because if we don't and it does continue to rain real hard, whether it might be this weekend or a future date, it's going to lead to repetitive flooding," said Teixeira.

By air, officials avoid natural obstacles like tree lines and the terrain's topography, an exclusive view they can't get on the ground. The crew lands with a new perspective and now a precise location of potential flooding hazards.

"There's trees falling across these river beds and so those are going to be quite a task to move because as the water rushes down, it picks up and collects and that will be a collection point," said Civil Defense Worker Harry Miller.

A point where backed up debris will cause heavy rain water to flow through homes and property instead of through natural streams safely leading it into the ocean.

Hitting the problem head on and clearing debris before there's chaos, civil defense says you can't stop heavy rain like the kind we saw last month but there is a way to reduce worries.

"It came in such a torrential fashion that it's really no one's fault. We just got together, stay together, work together to take care of this problem," said Teixeira.

From Thursday's survey, Civil Defense is organizing a massive cleanup project to clear streams in Leeward Coast communities.

That's where you come in. Civil Defense is asking volunteers to join in on the effort, to learn how, go to our website

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