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Saturday, February 18, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023

Miles of Hwy 11, the road around the island, remained blocked Saturday evening from Kaʻū Police Station at Nā'ālehu
to the intersection leading to SeaMountain Punalu'u resort. See more below. Photo by Bob Martin

ANOTHER MOTORIST DISREGARDED WARNINGS AND FAILED TO CROSS WOOD VALLEY FORD, becoming trapped in rushing water and requiring rescue by Hawai'i Fire Department on Saturday morning. A witness said the man drove past him and the barricades and tried to cross the rushing stream before dawn this morning. The vehicle and man became half submerged in the rapidly flowing
stream. The witness said he called police as he knew he would be risking his own life to try to wade in and save the victim.
    The report from Hawai' Fire Department says that at 4:42 a.m., Company 11, from Pāhala Fire Station, responded to a vehicle stuck in flood water in Wood Valley. The crew for Engine 11, Tanker 11X and Brush Truck 11 found "Sedan type vehicle disabled and half submerged in middle of swollen river bed. Fast moving water surrounding vehicle with single occupant still inside."
    The report by Fire Capt. Daniel Dunking and Acting Battalion Chief Daniel Volpe says, "Driver drove past barriers and attempted to cross fast moving river. Vehicle disabled and half way submerged in middle of fast moving river. The driver and lone occupant were rescued from vehicle and brought safely out of the hazard, without injuries.
    "Hawai'i Fire Department reminds all motorists to please monitor conditions and updates from Civil Defense and to comply with all warnings and road closures." 
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HWY 11 BETWEEN PUNALU`U AND NĀ'ĀLEHU REMAINED BLOCKED SATURDAY EVENING. The roadblock begins at Kaʻū Police Station, leaving Honu'apo through Kawā to Punalu'u inaccessible due to flooding at Kawā Flats, which could continue into Sunday. Ka'alaiki Road above Hwy 11, usually the alternate route, is also inaccessible and blocked by the county, with damaged bridges, gulches and pavement along the way.
This photo taken on Saturday shows the Nā'ālehu side of Ka'alaiki Road. Photo by Bob Martin

WITH TWO VEHICLES WASHED AWAY, their drivers recovered in flooded streams of Wood Valley, county road workers and police are inspecting and blocking passage along nearby Ka'alaiki Road. The road crosses the slopes between Nā'ālehu and Pāhala. Its surface, bridges and gulches are damaged and the route is off limits for now.

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Ka'alaiki Road is missing a chunk from a bridge near Aikane Plantation. Photo by Phil Becker

AT LEAST ONE BRIDGE BECAME UNDERMINED and possibly unstable along Ka'alaiki Road between Pāhala and Nā'ālehu during this weekend's storm. The upper road is known as an emergency route when Kawā Flats is flooded and shuts down Hwy 11. However, heavy rains and overflowing gulches damaged Ka'alaiki and motorists have been left with no alternative routes until the flooding on Hwy 11 ends.
    At least one bridge on Ka'alaiki is missing a chunk near Aikane Plantation. Closer to Nā'ālehu, a culvert with metal beams on the makai side to keep vehicles from veering into the gulch was also damaged. The huge I beams are gone, washed away.
    Ka'alaiki is owned by all the property owners along the way, but used by county and the public, without an official government stewardship responsibility. Farmers, ranchers and other adjacent landowners have called for the county to assume ownership of the road, particularly with the need for an emergency route when Hwy 11 is blocked below it.

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RODEO LIVESTOCK FROM KAʻŪ for this weekend's Pana`ewa Rodeo near Hilo couldn't make it across the flooded Kawā Flats on Hwy 11. Ricky Souza said that his calves and steers for roping, mugging and keiki riding events were hauled by Ryan Sanborn through Kona and all the way around the island to get them to the rodeo grounds by Saturday morning.
Also from Kaʻū are Daimen Flores livestock for the bull riding contests.
Kaʻū paniolo in the Pana'ewa Stampede Rodeo include Ricky Souza and his children Ricky Boy, T'ani and Dedrick, Wally Andrade's family members Leslie and Zenaida Andrade, and Frank Lorenzo, Jr., Lorilee Lorenzo and Ikaika Grace. Pana'ewa Stampede Rodeo continues all day Sunday.

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Teams from around the island are finding shelter, while playing volleyball at the fifth annual Miloli'i-Kaʻū Volleyball
Tournament on Saturday and Sunday, with free admission to the public at the Robert Herke's Gym in Pāhala.
Competitors are six to 16 years in age. Play is from 8 a.m. through late afternoon. Photo by Julia Neal

SHELTER & FUN: The gym complex named for the late Rep. Robert Herkes in Pāhala is serving the dual purpose he intended when he helped to fund the project, a district disaster shelter and a community and school gym. As bands of rain poured and paused across Kaʻū on Saturday, the gym became the rainy day place for volleyball teams from around the island and locals coming in from the storm.
    Red Cross and Civil Defense moved the shelter from the gym to its annex, where a few people stranded people came and went.
    By late morning the gym parking lot was more than half filled, mostly with big trucks, vans and SUVs that brought the youth for the fifth annual Miloli'i-Kaʻū Volleyball Tournament, which is set to continue through Sunday, with some 25 teams signed up.
     Admission is free to the public and the food concession is open to raise money for volleyball.
Civil Defense Red Cross Shelter remains open at the Robert Herkes Gym Annex in Pahala, while
the gym there is filled with youth volleyball. Photo by Julia Neal

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St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at
pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View. Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day, according to OKK President Wayne Kawachi.

Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner Kona Dr. Drive and Hwy 11, near Thai Grindz. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no rez needed. Parking in the upper lot. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.