As parts of Kauai continue to rebuild from last month’s record rain and flooding, county officials estimate they will need an initial $31.2 million for 90 road, bridge and park repair projects.
Gov. David Ige and Mayor Bernard Carvalho signed an agreement Thursday to release a first payment of $25 million.
The letter of agreement is similar to one that Ige signed Wednesday with acting Mayor Roy Amemiya to release $10 million for 15 projects on Oahu following the rain and flooding.
Heavy rain April 13-16 flooded parts of Oahu and Kauai, including a possible U.S. record amount of rainfall in a 24-hour period in Waipa on the Garden Isle, where one gauge recorded just under 50 inches in a 24-hour period ending midday April 15.
On May 10 Ige signed SB 192 (Act 12), which set aside $125 million for the recovery effort: $100 million for Kauai and $25 million for Oahu.
Ige’s office said Kauai County officials are expected to submit monthly reports, and more money may be released as recovery projects are finished.
The funds will not only help Kauai and Honolulu rebuild storm-damaged public projects, but also “help prepare us for what might happen next time,” Ige said.
In a joint telephone interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday, Ige and Carvalho emphasized that Kauai continues to welcome tourists.
“I definitely would like to say that the island of Kauai is open for business,” Ige said. Carvalho then quickly added, “We want to welcome visitors to our beautiful island.”
But there is still plenty of work to be done.
While much of Hanalei was undamaged by the rain and flooding, the nearby communities of Wainiha and Haena remain accessible only to local residents, emergency workers and repair crews.
Kuhio Highway was buried under more than a dozen landslides, initially cutting off Wainiha and Haena, but crews were able to open one lane of traffic May 4.
“There’s still only one-way access on the north shore,” Carvalho said. “Parts of our island are still not accessible.”
Ige on Thursday met with some Kauai taro farmers who are “still drying out many of their farms,” he said. “We did talk about the fact they had significant damage to equipment and crops. … They don’t anticipate being back to their normal production cycles for another 12 to 18 months. Their revenues have dropped significantly, and they don’t anticipate seeing relief for a long, long time.”
Ige said his administration is looking at federal assistance programs to help farmers on Kauai and Oahu.
In the meantime, Ige said, “the entire rest of Kauai is open for business and booming.”