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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Ocean View Community Emergency Response Team President Marie Burns (right) and Uncle Tony
who owns a restaurant, helping fire victims with food at King's Cathedral on Maui. 
OCEAN VIEW COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM SENT ITS PRESIDENT TO MAUI last weekend to assist first responders. Marie Burns, President of OV CERT, said the experience is invaluable for prevention and preparedness in Ocean View. It helps her as a CERT volunteer to keep up her skills.
    Burns said said she assisted at the King's Cathedral in Kahului, which is designated as a disaster shelter. King's Cathedral not only served many hundreds of meals per day. It also sheltered victims of the fire and provided showers. She said she assisted with food, working with a man named Uncle Tony who had his own restaurant. There were ten cooks in the kitchen at King's Cathedral. 
    Donations from the community and agencies arrived all day long, said Burns. She said that the situation is "like a funeral and emotionally overwhelming." Regarding people being anxious to cast blame for the tragedy and make redevelopment plans for the future, Burns said, "we haven't even identified the missing, those who perished. We should just stop. We should just cry. The people are in shock."
Marie Burns, President of Ocean View CERT, volunteered
 at King's Cathedral on Maui over the weekend. 
    Burns said she met a woman whose house was one of the few that survived in Lāhainā and that is made of brick. She said she met another who needs a tree cut. Burns who is a tree-climbing arborist said she would return to help her. She has operated FBI Tree Trimmers for 15 years out of Ocean View.
    She said it was a joy to witness people reunite who didn't know of each others' fate for almost a week. She has many stories of survival including a young surf instructor woman, who said she was resting when the fire came close and would have simply died if no one had come to alert her. So much of the survival was by chance like people saying they didn't know why they decided to turn left instead of right on a street and made it.
      Burns said she plans to go back frequently and that the next trip will also involve helping animal rescue organizations.

HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC HAS BEEN SUED, ITS STOCK PLUNGING AND ITS CREDIT RATING DROPPING TO JUNK. A fourth suit was filed Wednesday, blaming it for the wildfires on Maui. It contends that Hawaiian Electric failed to turn off the power in the high winds on Maui even though the company applauded the policy adopted in California after deadly wildfires there. The suit also contends that Hawaiian Electric failed to use $192 million approved by the Public Utilities Commission to harden its utility polls and other equipment to prevent wildfires. The lawsuit maintains that since 2017 Hawaiian Electric has deferred programs to reduce wildfire exposure while continuing to give out tens of millions of dollars in increasing payments to stockholders.
     Hawai‘i pays the highest electric rates in the country. Hawaiian Electric told members of the press it could not speak about pending litigation.
DAILY LOSSES TO THE ECONOMY, WORKERS AND THE STATE in the wake of the Maui wildfires have been listed by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, which is asking for emergency funding. HTA lists daily losses as: $8.5 million in total sales revenues; $2.9 million in household income; $1.05 million in direct visitor spending; $1.96 million in lost sales with multiplier effects; $535,500 in household income; $414,000 in state revenue; and $121,800 in state taxes.  About 10,000 jobs were lost in Lahaina alone.
    The emergency funding to HTA would come from a $5 million special fund that needs approval by the
governor. It would be the first time the tourism emergency is used for a tourism emergency. Use of the funding is limited to an emergency that  “adversely affects Hawai‘i’s tourism industry by resulting in a substantial interruption in the commerce of the State and adversely affecting the welfare of its people.”
    Eugene Tam, state economist, noted that the sale revenue loss is statewide, as Lāhainā businesses sourced many of their inputs from food to goods from other places in Hawai‘i. The drop in household income and state and county revenues also affect the entire state.
     Since the disaster, arrivals to Maui dropped from 7,000/day to 1,500/day.
     Mufi Hannemann, head of Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association and an HTA board member noted, “We had federal funding during COVID to keep people at home, but right now we need federal funding to keep people at work. Imagine losing your home and your job.” One use of the funding would be to encourage visitors to go to the places on Maui unaffected by the fires.

THE MAN WHO DIED IN A CRASH SUNDAY EVENING AT MANUKA PARK ON HWY 11 has been identified. The 30-year-old Waikoloa man is Koa Kane Clark. He died following a single-vehicle collision fronting the Manuka State Recreational Park at the 81.2 Mile Marker. 
    Responding to an 8:08 p.m. call, police determined that a black 2008 Mercedes-Benz 280 convertible was heading north on Highway 11 at a very high rate of speed. The Mercedes-Benz lost control and drove off of the roadway (Mauka) and struck the rock wall sign that was fronting Manuka State Recreational Park. The driver was then ejected from the vehicle. Clark was transported to Kona Community Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:18 a.m., on Monday.
A 30-year-old driver of a Mercedes Benz lost control
at the 81.2 Mile Marker on Hwy 11 and crashed into
the Manuka State Park sign on Sunday night. He died.
    A 25-year-old Kailua-Kona passenger in the vehicle was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment. He is currently listed in stable condition.
   Police believe that speed and impairment are factors in the crash. The 30-year-old driver was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.
   An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
    The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a Coroner’s Inquest investigation and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Officer Adam Roberg at 326-4646, ext. 229 or email at adam.roberg@hawaiicounty.gov.
   This is the 11th traffic fatality this year compared to 25 at this time last year.
   Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

KAʻŪ TROJAN'S FIRST FALL FOOTBALL GAME IS THURSDAY, on the road to Pahoa, with a start time of 6 p.m. Coaches are Ted Blanco, Todd Marinovich, Garrett Greedy and Mark Peters. Here is the player lineup with jersey numbers.

5,000 in the mail, 2,500 on the street.