Cleanup continues; isle businesses reopen
Government facilities and parks and Maui County businesses shuttered by storm system Iselle were beginning to reopen Saturday as the cleanup continued at Ulupalakua Ranch.
Jimmy Gomes, operations manager of the ranch, said Saturday afternoon that Piilani Highway was completely reopened Friday night within the ranch’s property, but debris less than a mile past the ranch closed one lane.
A few of the 23 homes on the ranch’s property were still without power, and those families were staying with others on the ranch, Gomes said.
Ranch President Sumner Erdman said structural damage was discovered at some of the homes and that roofs may need to be replaced and some carports rebuilt.
Gomes said officials with the ranch’s insurance company visited Ulupalakua on Saturday and took photos, and the company will send an appraiser sometime this week to get an estimate of the damage.
Erdman said he will be flying in a chopper to take an overall look at the damage this morning. He said that the ranch has “some insurance capabilities” but will possibly look at disaster relief programs because the “sheer number of fences destroyed is quite amazing.”
“I couldn’t even begin to try and fathom the expense of it, but I may have a pretty good idea when I take a look at it tomorrow,” he said.
Gomes estimates that the ranch lost some 50 miles of fence line, including some that separates Ulupalakua Ranch from Polipoli Springs State Recreation Area and Thompson Ranch.
“It’s so disheartening to see that the whole boundary fence is gone,” Gomes said of the fence line with the state park.
He said no one was injured and that he had not seen any dead cattle yet.
Goodfellow Bros. is using front-end loaders to remove some of the 100-foot eucalyptus trees scattered throughout the ranch’s 18,000 acres.
“Forests that were once live and vibrant are no longer there,” Gomes said. “I think Sumner said yesterday we had hundreds of trees down. Well, we probably got thousands of trees down now.”
Erdman said “the magnitude of the number of trees and fence lines destroyed is pretty mind-boggling.”
“I think we’re going to have everybody take tomorrow off, while I think of where we start come Monday morning, because I’m not sure where to start,” he said.
The public libraries with Saturday hours, except for Makawao Library, have reopened, the state Public Library System announced at about noon Saturday.
Haleakala National Park at the summit and Kipahulu districts reopened Saturday afternoon after park crews assessed road, campground and building conditions and cleaned up downed trees and rock slides from Iselle, said park spokeswoman Polly Angelakis.
Haleakala summit will be open for sunrise viewing today. Some areas of the park may close periodically for safety reasons if there are more downed trees or rock slides, she said.
Park officials are monitoring Hurricane Julio, which is currently tracking north of the Hawaiian Islands, to determine if or when the park will be closed. Call 572-4400, option 2, or refer to the park’s Facebook page for the latest closure information.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources opened Makena State Park at noon Saturday; all other state-managed park and forest land remained closed. No camping permits were being issued, DLNR said.
Post offices were open Saturday with mail delivery and retail services also resumed business.
The Coast Guard reopened all ports Saturday. All small-boat harbors were open, too, according to DLNR.
Maui Electric Co. crews continued to work around the clock to restore power to Olinda, Ulupalakua, Pukalani and Makena. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, 117 customers remained without power, said Kau’i Awai-Dickson, MECO spokeswoman.
MECO crews worked to clear large trees and debris in an effort to access areas of downed lines and poles, she said. In the previous 24 hours, power was restored to customers in Haiku, Kahakuloa and parts of Olinda and Piiholo. The majority of customers in Ulupalakua who were without power have also been restored to service.
Currently, customers in small pockets of Olinda, Piiholo and Ulupalakua remain without power as crews continue their efforts to cut paths through rough terrain to make repairs.
“We understand that this is extremely difficult for our customers who are still without power,” said MECO President Sharon Suzuki. “We want you to know that we are doing everything we possibly can to bring folks back on line as soon as possible.”
If a customer is still without power in an area not noted, call MECO’s Trouble Lines on Maui at 871-7777 and Molokai and Lanai at (877) 871-8461.
The American Red Cross reported Saturday that there were 43 people staying Friday night at the Baldwin High School evacuation center, the only one that remained opened Friday night. Seven shelters were closed Friday.
The National Weather Service announced a high-surf warning at about 4 p.m. Saturday, a result of Julio.
The warning is for east-facing shores of Maui and Molokai and remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday. The National Weather Service expects surf to rise to 10 to 15 feet Saturday night to tonight. These conditions will create rip currents and strong shore break.
As Iselle makes its way out of the main Hawaiian Islands, Julio continues to move closer and is expected to pass about 250 miles northeast of Maui today, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Julio, currently with 90 mph maximum sustained winds, is 365 miles east northeast of Hilo and moving west northwest at 16 mph. It is expected to gradually weaken but remain a hurricane at least through tonight, the hurricane center said. Hurricane force winds extend 35 miles out from the center.
In other reopenings, all state courthouses and state Judiciary offices will reopen Monday as will all public schools.
All Kamehameha Schools facilities also will reopen Monday.
The Maui County Civil Defense Agency said that residents needing to report damage caused by Iselle may access the reporting form online at www.mauicounty.gov under “Storm Information.”