Maui’s Lane damage could run up in the millions for repairs

While Maui County officials survey damage in the aftermath of former Hurricane Lane, initial reports from just one storm-related repair project indicate the county could spend millions of dollars.

“We are doing damage assessments. We are going out there in the community and evaluating and seeking what kind of damages are out there,” said Herman Andaya Jr., administrator of the Maui Emergency Management Agency during a County Council meeting Tuesday.

More community outreach will be done today during a community meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at the Lahainaluna High School cafeteria. West Maui was hit particularly hard by the storm and brush fires.

Discussion will include emergency measures and future county actions.

County agencies that will provide information include: the Mayor’s Office, Maui Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Environmental Management, Maui Police Department and Maui Electric Co.

On Tuesday, Andaya told council members that county officials conducted an aerial survey Sunday that included a look at the sink hole on Puu Way in Haiku, along with the fire damage in Lahaina.

Council Chairman Mike White said Department of Public Works Director David Goode told him the Haiku repairs to fix a culvert and other infrastructure in the area could cost $2 million to $2.5 million.

Council members agreed to forward a communication item regarding the county’s response to Hurricane Lane to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee.

County departments are expected to seek funding for storm-related repairs.

Also Tuesday, the Maui Police Department reported its investigation has shown no criminal intent to the start the Kauaula Valley fire that spread to Lahainaluna Road and the separate fire that started above the Kaanapali Hillside homes, all on Aug. 24.

The fire reported at 12:45 a.m. Friday at Kauaula Valley and Punakea Loop eventually claimed approximately 1,500 acres burned and burned 21 residential structures; approximately 27 vehicles were damaged. Fire crews reported “very strong and swirling winds” associated with the approaching hurricane. A woman from the valley sustained burns to her legs and arms.

Around 7:30 a.m. Friday, another fire was reported behind the Lahaina Civic Center. It spread rapidly to Puukolii Road and the Kaanapali Golf Estates and Kaanapali Hillside subdivision. Some external damage was reported to a home in the Kaanapali Hillside subdivision, fire officials said.

Council members praised firefighters, police and county personnel for their responses to the fire.

Council Member Elle Cochran, who holds the West Maui residency seat, praised the work of public safety officials. But she expressed concern over the Lahaina Civic Center shelter closing too early, especially when parts of Lahaina still did not have electricity.

She said that, thankfully, volunteers and Waiola Church allowed shelter seekers to stay at the church, even though the church didn’t have electricity, but the Civic Center did. She said evacuees who had to leave the Civic Center included the medically fragile.

But county Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ka’ala Buenconsejo, who was stationed at the Civic Center shelter with the Red Cross, told council members that the center was closed Saturday afternoon, long way after all other Maui shelters were closed. The closure occurred after the threat of Hurricane Lane had passed, and people who were evacuated because of the fires were allowed to return to their homes.

He said there was one family from Kauaula Valley that was at the center because their home burned, but officials made sure they had a place to go prior to the shelter closing.

He said it was time to transition people out of the shelter because food donations left at the Civic Center began to spoil, and people were starting to take a shower in the center’s sinks. People who remained at the Civic Center Saturday had a place to return to, including the homeless shelter, but they chose to just remain at the Civic Center, he said.

White also told council members that the Public Works Department is awaiting a report from East Maui about damages associated with the south swells from the storm.

The county corrected a news release issued Monday. It said people seeking permits to rebuild after the West Maui brush fires are asked to call the Development Services Administration at 270-7379. An incorrect phone number was provided by the county.

In response to Hurricane Lane, Central Pacific Bank announced Tuesday that it has a natural disaster loan program to assist Hawaii residents. The program features special rates, flexible terms, less paperwork and fast application processing for loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

A payment deferral option is available for current bank customers. Under the program, they will be able to defer up to three months of loan payments for indirect and customer loan accounts.

For more information visit any Central Pacific Bank branch or contact its customer service center at (808) 544-0500 or toll free (800) 342-8422.

Bank of Hawaii has similar programs.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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