By Wendy Osher
House lawmakers today set aside $12 million in funds as they prepare to deal with damages caused by several days of heavy rains, flooding and sewage spills on the island of Kaua’i.
The appropriation from the House Finance Committee is essentially a placeholder, as lawmakers prepare for funding requests once storm damage assessments are complete.
The funding comes as parts of the state remain under Flood Watches and Advisories, with reports of flooding and debris on the neighbor islands. It also comes a day after Governor Neil Abercrombie declared an emergency on Kaua’i and Oahu.
The $12 million includes: $5 million for public highways, $5 million for state harbors, and $2 million for state land and natural resources.
Representatives from Kauai praised the appropriation saying. Among them was Rep. Derek Kawakami of Hanalei who credited Chair Marcus Oshiro and the House Finance committee with responding immediately to the heavy damage to the island.
Fellow Rep. James Tokioka who represents Lihue and Koloa and is a member of the House Finance Committee also thanked those who recognized the extent of damages and responded accordingly.
“We have been working closely with Senator Ronald Kouchi and Kaua’i Mayor Bernard Carvalho to help repair the damage and bring some normalcy back to our island, and we are grateful to House Speaker Calvin Say, the House Leadership team and our Finance colleagues for their support,” said Rep. Tokioka.
Rep. Dee Morikawa, who serves the district of Niihau, Lehua, Koloa and Waimea said there was “heartfelt concern echoed through the hallways of the State Capitol,” as fellow colleagues expressed their care and concern for the well-being and safety of the Kauai community.
The impacts of the heavy rains continue to be felt on the Garden Isle where rains today temporarily overwhelmed the Hawaii Public Housing Authority sewer lift station in Kapaa, resulting in a wastewater spill.
In a statement released today, county officials said the station could not move incoming sewage quickly enough to the County of Kauai sewer main, and wastewater would have been backed up into public housing units if the controlled spill had not been performed.
HPHA staff was able to discharge some of the sewage onto the ground near the lift station. The area was barricaded, and the wastewater was chlorinated.
Kauai county officials say crews will discharging wastewater as needed to help the pumps keep up with the influx. The site will also be monitored for several days.
***Information on repairs to the Kapaa Temporary Bypass can be found at the following direct LINK.