LIHUE >> Kauai County officials this morning are trying to figure out how to import badly needed fuel into the isolated north shore communities of Haena and Wainiha — and simultaneously remove garbage that’s been piling up for more than a week — after more than a dozen landslides closed Kuhio Highway.
As work crews and heavy machinery continue to clear both ends of Kuhio Highway of tons of mud and debris, guards are now posted to prevent unauthorized people on the damaged highway, Kauai County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said.
People on all-terrain vehicles on Sunday mistakenly thought the highway was open and tried to navigate around crews and equipment to get to a community meeting held Sunday in Haena, Blane said.
A “no-fly zone” has been imposed in the area over Haena and Wainiha, Blane said. Mayor Bernard Carvalho and other officials flew into Haena aboard a Hawaii Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter for Sunday’s community meeting. That was the last helicopter flight planned in and out of the area, Blane said.
Carvalho told the more than 400 people who attended Sunday’s meeting that each household would be receiving five gallons of fuel every week. But transporting fuel is “heavily regulated,” she said, and importing it by helicopter seems unlikely because of safety concerns.
Helicopters could possibly “sling load” garbage out, she said.
“Our priority is getting waste out of there and getting fuel in,” Blane said.
Exactly how those two operations will happen remains under discussion today, she said. “Everything is evolving,” Blane said.
The two communities have been receiving supplies from a volunteer flotilla of small boats, personal watercraft and a barge provided by the Robinson family of Niihau, which made “two drops,” Blane said.
But today, with north shore surf reported at 6 feet, “the barge is at the mercy of the ocean conditions,” she said. “There is strong surf today.”
Residents of Wainiha and Haena told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week that the two communities have roughly 200 to 300 full-time residents, with dozens of more vacation rentals.
Blane said there are roughly 500 utility customers in the area, which would include vacation rentals.