Keehi Lagoon full of trash after Darby's heavy rains
KEEHI LAGOON, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Flooding from Tropical Storm Darby sent large debris and trash into Keehi Lagoon, putting an upcoming outrigger canoe championship in limbo.
Among the things now stuck in the muck: At least two makeshift shelters, large appliances, and layers of trash.
"The debris, the grass, the trees, the branches. That's expected with heavy rain," said Gino Dayton, founder of the Keola Ke Kai Canoe Club. "But the amount of trash that came down, and two houses. That's outrageous."
The Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association championship was postponed this past weekend because of Tropical Storm Darby, and paddlers had been looking to make up the race Sunday.
But now there's a good chance it might be canceled again because of the trash in the lagoon.
Keola Ke Kai Canoe Club members had been looking forward to the race, but said going into the Keehi Lagoon waters now poses a safety risk.
"Speaking on behalf of our canoe club and the kids that we coach and their safety, no I would not subject our kids to participate in water such as this," he said.
Paddlers suspect a fair amount of the trash is from homeless camps upstream.
"They just throw everything to the side of the banks where now, because of the rushing water and flash floods, it's on our front door," Dayton said.
Earlier this summer, Hawaii News Now got video of growing piles of trash under the Airport Viaduct and in nearby homeless encampments.
The state put clean-ups of the areas on hold last September, in response to potential legal challenges and concerns about a loss of federal funding. On Tuesday, though much of the garbage in the area was gone, apparently swept away in Darby's heavy rains.
"This is not rocket science," said state. Sen. Glenn Wakai, whose district includes Kalihi, Mapunapuna and the airport. "They should have cleaned it up and they should be cleaning it up on a regular basis."
Meanwhile, paddlers appear to be on their own when it comes to cleaning up Keehi Lagoon.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a statement, "While DLNR has management responsibilities for ocean waters, we don't have the resources to respond everywhere, including Keehi Lagoon."
Luana Froiseth, president of the OHCRA, said this about the situation.
"Whether it's the canoe club, the city and the state. All of us working together need to clean this up," she said.
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