East Maui community cut off after heavy rains wash out bridge

Senator J. Kalani English
Senator J. Kalani English

HANAWANA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The recent heavy rains damaged a bridge that serves as a lifeline for dozens of residents. Now a rural community in East Maui has been cut off from the outside world.

The Hanawana Land Bridge was built about 100 years ago off Hana Highway. Part of it collapsed into a river during the severe weather more than a week ago. Roughly 40 residents are now stranded.

"They cannot to work. They cannot get to goods and services. They cannot get to the store," said Sen. J. Kalani English (D-Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai). "You used to be able to cross with a car. now you can walk, but as you walk over it, it's still falling into the river."

"This is overwhelming. Normally if there's any damage, road damage, we get together and fix it up," said Hanawana resident Keith Douglas.

It is considered a government road, but it's unclear who is responsible. The County of Maui stepped up to serve as the lead agency. Fixing the Hanawana bridge will require an estimated $250,000.

"They'll start looking at what it takes to repair it, what it takes to rebuild it so that they can come across and then we'll have to deal with the funding mechanism later and deal with whose jurisdiction it is," said English.

English said many of the historic bridges in East Maui are unstable and need to be replaced.

"Had this been one of our 60 some odd bridges, you would have had the whole east side of Maui completely cut off. Of the 60 some odd bridges we have out there, 42 are deemed unsafe which means even in good weather, it's very difficult to pass," said English.

As for the families stuck in Hanawana, the county hopes to create a realigned gravel road as soon as possible.

"Nobody ever imagined this would happen. It just did. We're working on it. We're very hopeful the agencies expedite this," said Douglas.

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