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Two years after Haliwa floods, residents are demanding change

Two years after Haliwa floods, residents are demanding change

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Haleiwa was hit by devastating floods almost two years ago. Heavy rains lashed the area on March 9, 2021, carrying debris downstream, causing rivers and streams to overflow.

One property was completely destroyed, 15 suffered major damage, and 50 others suffered minor damage.

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Surf N Salsa was one of several businesses affected. Owner Jhon Acuna said he still gets restless when it rains a lot.

“It’s a little worrying to see if there’s going to be a flood,” he said.

Overall, the flood caused them about $140,000 in damage, Acuna said.

He said he didn’t receive any government assistanceโ€”the process was too complicatedโ€”and he was busy trying to get his business back on track. He is still paying off that loan.

Derek Gamiao, who lives right next to the stream, remembered how fast it all happened.

โ€œWe tried to extract everything but it was too late. The water was already coming in and we couldn’t get out in time,” he explained.

“By the time we got the warning, I would say about half an hour. It was already two feet and it was already entering homes.

It cost him around $70,000. He said that he has not received any financial help from the government either.

One of the reasons the flood caused so much damage was because the debris was pushed into the river. This caused the bridges to close, allowing excess water to go over the banks.

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Since then, additional efforts have been made to clean streams and rivers ahead of storms, but many in the community want MPs to address the problem on the ‘Long Bridge’ on Halewa Beach Road.

Kathleen Pahinui, chair of the Haleiwa Neighborhood Board, said they are asking to dig it up.

“It’s compacted. It’s silted up over the last 20-30 years. And I believe the state needs to come in and we need to open its mouth again, because a lot of the streams are there flow,โ€ Pahinui explained.

โ€œWe are just disappointed, the whole community is disappointed. They had to go through my father’s generation and now I am going through the same problem again.

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โ€œIt will happen again. Unless they fix it, they will dry up this river.โ€

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