The state Department of Land and Natural Resources conducted a helicopter survey of its lands, and found most of the vast acreage of lands it manages to have relatively less damage than originally thought due to last weekend’s historical flooding.
Other areas, however, were more devastated than originally thought.
Division of Forestry and Wildlife Kauai branch manager Sheri Mann conducted a survey of Waimea Canyon, along with parts of the Kokee and Alakai Plateau area, the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, the North Shore region, Powerline Trail and the entire Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.
“There are certainly areas that are badly eroded though, mostly in remote, inaccessible areas,” said Mann in a news release. “Some roads on the North Shore are washed-out and impassable. Most of the recently built bridges, including three along Camp Ten Road in the Kokee area, seem to be sound and have had no impact. The same is true of the lower Waimea Canyon DOFAW managed lands & cabins.”
On the Wailua-Kapaa part of the island, however, several stream crossings, or cement fords, were wiped out or are partially under deep water, with numerous large trees laying across Loop Road.
The state has closed the eastern side of the Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve until further notice. Vehicles should not travel beyond the new Keahua bridge over the Wailua River, which remains intact.
At the second crossing inland from Keahua Bridge, half of the concrete ford platform was washed away, and at the third crossing, water is estimated to be several feet deep. Thick tree cover made it difficult to see all of Loop Road, so until further assessment can be done, the state is asking people to avoid the area.
“What we saw surprised us on a number of levels,” said Mann. “We didn’t expect to see the specific damages where we saw them, but we also were thankful that there was very little damage to areas that often get impacted by these kinds of storms.”
Heavy equipment arrived at Lumahai beach on Kauai’s north shore at noon on Wednesday, to help clear landslides. Professional surfer Laird Hamilton, who was assisting the state with cleanup efforts, said he had been trying to help coordinate barge landings.
“In the beginning it was getting the people who needed to get out, out,” he said in the news release. “Now we’re trying to people and supplies in so they can start clearing the roads so we can create vehicular access.”
Still, the Kauai community remains resilient.
“Kauai has experienced tsunamis, hurricanes and floods,” said Laird. “The land and its people are very resilient and we will recover from this.”