County crews clear roadway of mud, debris after landslide

Both lanes of Hana Highway were shut down by a landslide Friday night but were reopened by 4:30 a.m. Saturday as state and county work crews cleared approximately 2,000 cubic yards of mud and debris.

There were no reports of any injuries in the slide that occurred near Milepost 14.8, on the Kahului side of Keanae, shortly before 6 p.m. Friday.

State Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Caroline Sluyter said Saturday morning that state engineers were at the scene continuing to monitor the hillside to assess it for stability.

One lane of the highway was reopened prior to midnight as heavy equipment crews worked throughout the early morning to clear the road, officials said.

Since both lanes were reopened by early Saturday, officials at the popular East Maui Taro festival said they didn’t see any differences in the crowd size on Saturday at the Hana Ballpark.

“I don’t even know if the mudslide even turned any people away or not,” said Judy Kinser, the event coordinator and treasurer for the East Maui Taro Festival Board of Directors.

She estimated the crowd to be around 1,000 at midday Saturday and said that’s about the same size as last year.

“It doesn’t look like it’s any less, that’s for sure. People are still coming in right now,” she said, adding that normally 4,000 people attend the festival throughout the course of the day.

The festival winds down today, beginning with a taro pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Hana Bay.

The mudslide was estimated at 100 feet long and 20 feet high early Friday evening.

Motorists in the area at the time reported seeing rocks falling and heard the “rumbling” of more rocks.

At one point Friday night, cleanup of the road was not possible as fire officials said that the landslide was still actively moving.

Kinser said that it was partly cloudy and warm in Hana on Saturday afternoon. She added that Friday was sunny although it had rained on Thursday.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at