LIHUE >> State, military and Kauai County crews assessed the damage from this weekend’s storm — and started the search for possible victims.
Gov. David Ige, his Chief of Staff Mike McMcartney and Ige’s security detail landed on Kauai around 7:40 a.m. today and immediately went to the Kauai County operations center for an update on the storm damage on the Garden Island.
Asked about the latest updates, McCartney said, “We’re heading over to the EOC now for an update. We don’t want to get in the way of county ops.”
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Ige said that thankfully, there were still no reports of injuries from the weekend storm that forced an evacuation from the island’s north shore and destroyed two vacant homes.
“I’ve lived here all my life — born and raised. This is the worst,” 57-year-old Mayor Bernard Carvalho told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
There have been no reports of major injuries from the storm that hit Saturday, “Thank God for that,” Carvalho said.
But as the storm receded today, followed by light rain, the true scope of the damage has yet to reveal itself.
What’s known is that hundreds of people were stranded in two emergency shelters on Kauai’s picturesque North Shore and temporarily had no food or water. The storm cut off the North Shore and triggered at least eight rock slides along Kuhio Highway, which remains closed today around the Hanalei Bridge.
“New rivers were created,” Carvalho said. An unknown number of homes were likely knocked off their foundations, he said.
Carvalho and Gov. David Ige are bracing for damage assessments that are likely to be in the millions.
Ige has issued an emergency declaration and said he and Carvalho have already been in contact with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to lay the groundwork for the rebuilding process.
Kauai County already had budgeted $14 million for such a disaster, but Carvalho only could shake his head when asked how big the final price tag may be.
Throughout the stormy weekend, Carvalho could only tell residents and visitors: “‘Shelter in place.’ They’re isolated.”
Churches, hotels, restaurants and other private businesses including Costco are stepping up to provide food, he said, and the county is working with the state and National Guard to bring in two 400-gallon water tanks for thirsty residents and tourists.
“Today’s the rock-and-roll day, come on man,” Carvalho told the Star-Advertiser.
Search-and-rescue crews were patrolling waters in zodiacs and Ige ordered six military blackhawk helicopters and a C-130 transport plane to fly in from Oahu, among other personnel and assets.
Carvalho said he appreciated the support after Ige said county officials have been working around the clock since Saturday.