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Some Hauula residents say illegal dumping contributed to severe flooding

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of homes in Hauula were significantly damaged in Tuesday’s severe flooding.

And some residents say not all of the flooding was due to Mother Nature.

Residents along a stretch of Kamehameha Highway between Kahikole and Ahinalu places say that illegal stockpiles of asphalt and construction material elevated the land beneath a construction baseyard across the street, causing stormwater to flow over the highway onto their properties.

“He’s built the property up 5 or 6 feet so the water has to go someplace else,” Dotty Kelly-Paddock, president of the Hauula Community Association said of the baseyard’s owner Hoapate Taufa.

Several neighbors have been complaining for years about what they say is illegal dumping and grading on Taufa’s land.

The state Department of Health investigated last year and is fining Taufa $17,000 for dumping about a 100 cubic yards of construction materials into a protected wetland without a special permit.

But Taufa is fighting the fines and denies he is stockpiling construction material. He also said his property deed says his land is not in a protected wetland.

Taufa also blames the city for the floods: For installing storm drains uphill from his property and for not clearing the mouths of nearby streams which would allow the flood waters to flow to the ocean.

Environmental watchdogs said the fines haven’t stopped the construction work on the site.

They cited drone video of construction waste being put on the property was taken three days before Tuesday’s heavy rains.

“I would describe it as thumbing his nose at the public and the government. The average person gets a notice of violation like this, they tend to it and stop. This seems to have increased the dumping,” said Carroll Cox, president of Envirowatch.

After the floods, neighbors are calling for the government to take stronger action.

“We need their help. This is their job to protect the land and protect the neighborhood from people who break these law,” said Kelly-Paddock.

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