Storm cleanup continues

Maui’s tropical climate seems to have returned to normal Sunday, with sunny skies and highs in the mid 70s for most of the county, but utility, county and state officials are still working to repair damages caused by Friday’s storm.

Power has been restored to more than 90 percent of the initial 19,588 customers in parts of Central Maui, South Maui, Upcountry, Paia, Haiku, East Maui and Molokai who were affected by outages over the weekend due to the storm, Maui Electric Co. officials said.

Customers in Upcountry’s Piiholo and Olinda areas and about 100 East Maui residences were still without power as of Sunday evening. MECO crews continued to work “nearly around the clock” to repair downed power lines and remove debris in both areas, officials said.

“We apologize for the extended outages as we work to bring back customers as quickly and safely as possible,” MECO President Sharon Suzuki said in a statement issued Sunday evening. “The storm brought down transmission lines and trees and debris on lines in some of our most remote locations, including areas Upcountry and East Maui. Many of these areas are inaccessible by vehicles, so our crews are flown in or hike into these areas to access the damaged equipment.”

The Upcountry neighborhoods suffered extensive damage during the storm, including cracked utility poles, transformers and conductors, MECO spokeswoman Shayna Decker said. Crews need to remove large trees in some areas just to access downed lines and electrical equipment, which may cause further delays in power being restored.

In East Maui, crews performed extensive helicopter inspections Sunday afternoon to assess downed lines located in gulches along Mileposts 18 to 30 on Hana Highway. Those downed lines affect about 100 customers from Keanae to Nahiku. The power outage to those customers is expected to extend into today as crews hike through dangerous terrain to repair lines and equipment, Decker said.

MECO officials remind residents to stay away from downed power lines. “Assume they are energized, or ‘live,’ and dangerous,” officials said.

The county Department of Water Supply said Sunday afternoon that water service disrupted by Friday’s storm has been restored in nearly all areas. Department officials expected to lift the call for water conservation for most areas by 7 a.m. today.

The department asked residents on upper Olinda and upper Piiholo roads to continue conserving water until further notice, as power service has not yet been restored to a pump station located in the upper Olinda Road area.

The department issued a notice Saturday morning asking all water consumers in Makawao, Olinda and Upper Kula, and those from Kahului to Kihei, including Maui Meadows and Iao Valley, to conserve water because storm-related power outages and downed trees had impacted water pumping capacity in those areas.

The state Department of Health issued a brown water advisory for West Maui beaches on Saturday night from Honolua Bay to Hanakao’o (Canoe) Beach Park due to the heavy rains brought by the storm. The public is advised to stay out of floodwaters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals and associated flood debris.

Also, turbid water runoff is known to attract sharks due to possible dead animals being washed into the ocean, department officials said.

Haleakala National Park’s summit remains closed until further notice “due to heavy ice on the summit park road, road debris and lack of power,” park spokeswoman Pauline Angelakis said Sunday afternoon.

The park’s Kipahulu District is open but the pools are closed.

Angelakis said that the park will reopen “once it is safe to do so.”

“With no power, we do not have radio, phone or other emergency communications. If there were an emergency, we would not have any way to contact (emergency medical services) or other emergency services,” Angelakis said. There are also no restrooms available at the summit.

On Molokai, a 32-foot catamaran broke free of its anchor in the midst of the storm early Saturday and washed ashore at Kaunakakai Harbor. Sailboat owner Kurt Schildhauer was aboard the vessel with his dog, Rasa, when the boat “began drifting (toward shore) between 2 and 3 a.m.”

“I had two anchors out, one (of the lines) broke off and one (anchor) dragged all the way to the beach,” Shildhauer said by phone Sunday morning. No injuries were reported.

“There were very, very big waves and very, very strong winds, and they all decided that my boat was in the wrong place and decided to move it,” he said.

He was still in the process of assessing the damage as his sailboat, Moli, rested on the beach. During hurricanes he’s experienced since he first arrived at Kaunakakai Harbor about three years ago, Schildhauer said he had secured his boat to the dock, “but this time, judging from what they were predicting, (I thought) it wasn’t going to be that bad.”

Shildhauer does not know whether he will salvage and repair the boat or scrap it for parts. In the meantime, he is staying with friends on island.

“There’s an awful lot of good people here on Molokai that take good care of me,” the sailor said.

In Lahaina, a vessel reportedly ran aground during the storm that began Friday night. Fire officials responded to a 10:51 p.m. report that a 40-foot catamaran had broken free from its mooring off Lahaina town and had washed ashore, damaging oceanfront businesses and structures in the vicinity of 825 Front St.

The state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation said Sunday morning that the catamaran remained grounded but the owners of the vessel “have taken steps to remove and salvage their items from their vessel.” They are awaiting insurance adjusters to evaluate the damage, officials said.

DOBOR Maui District Manager Paul Sensano said Sunday that he has not heard of any other damage from his staff or from clients related to the recent storm, but boaters should remember to take necessary precautions in any weather event.

“Keep up with the weather reports, secure all the lines, make sure bilge pumps are working,” Sensano advised boaters, adding that many don’t bother to check their bilge pumps until rain or water fills up the boat and, without working pumps to expel the excess water, “before you know it the boat is sinking and it’s submerged.”

All boaters should make sure their insurance is up to date, as required by law, he added.

Sensano said that he will catch up with his staff for further updates today.

The Kihei Canoe Club suffered more than $60,000 in damages to three of its canoes kept at Ka Lae Pohaku Beach, a club spokesperson said.

One of the club’s newest canoes, the Lele Mama, was swept out to sea, “only to be violently returned as a battering ram in the pounding surf, resulting in the back portion of the canoe being snapped off,” said canoe Club Board Member Cheryl Logsdon. She added that an older canoe, the Pakalana, is also broken beyond repair. A third canoe, the Hoku wela wela, is missing and presumed lost.

“Our canoes are the most precious resource of our club, they are like family members,” said Casey Logsdon, vice president of Kihei Canoe Club and the head coach of Baldwin High School’s paddling team. “The losses we sustained (Friday) night will take a long time to overcome.”

Club members had tucked the canoes as far back as they could go on the beach in anticipation of the storm, but “no one was expecting the wind and rain to combine with the surf and tide in this dangerous combination,” Casey Logsdon said. Had they known, they likely would have moved the canoes across the street to safety, as they do for each hurricane or tropical storm warning, he said.

He added that both Maui High and Baldwin practice from the beach, and “we are right in the middle of the high school paddling season.”

“The beach in its current state is dangerous and unusable. We lost several canoes to damage, and more amas and the iakos that lash them together. It’s going to be very difficult to find the resources to keep the kids on the water for the rest of the season,” he said.

The club hosted a community cleanup at Ka Lae Pohaku Beach on Sunday morning. The club is seeking donations to help repair and restore the canoes. Donations can be made online at kiheicanoeclub.com.

To report storm damage, call 270-7285 or go to www.mauicounty.gov/StormDamageForm.

To report any outages or downed power lines and poles, call MECO at 871-777. Molokai and Lanai residents may call toll-free at (877) 871-8461.

* Eileen Chao can be reached at echao@mauinews.com.