Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Illegal Dumping Poses Flood Hazard

News Release - Hawaii House of Representatives
Date - January 10, 2009

Illegal dumping and trash dams continue to pose flood and environmental hazard in Wai'anae; Civil Defense and FEMA to Announce Plans for Coast

Wai`anae, Oahu. For years, illegal dumping has plagued the streams of the Wai`anae Coast. Many residents were worried that this dumping near their homes would create a flood hazard.

“Unfortunately, the worst case scenario happened,” said Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D-45th). “The December 11 storm caused catastrophic flooding, the Mailiilii-Puuhulu Stream overflowed, and residents of Lualualei Valley were devastated.”

A month later, with the forecast for storms over the weekend, residents fear a repeat. “The river was so high, and the road was a river,” recalled Monique DeCampo of Lualualei Valley. “This would not have happened if [the illegal dumping] had not been done,” she continued, her voice cracking as she held back tears.

The flood hazard created by illegal dumping in Mailiilii-Puuhulu Stream was highlighted in news stories about the lawsuit that has been brought against DeCampo’s neighbor, David Souza.

In August 2008, both the Honolulu Advertiser and KITV covered the lawsuit brought by homeowners Winston Naone and John Smith. Naone and Smith allege that Souza sold them their homes without disclosing that it contained an illegal dumpsite containing hazardous materials, including asphalt, which is made from petroleum. The EPA is investigating this alleged illegal dumping in Mailiilii-Puuhulu Stream.

Souza’s attorney, William McCorriston, stated that Souza is being wrongly accused. "We suffered flood damage, but our portion of the streambed was pristine and did not have any obstructions to the water flow. The National Guard used our lot as a staging area after the flood, and we are willing to allow them to use it again," McCorriston said.

Long before the floods and the lawsuit, DeCampo took pictures of an illegal dam, backfilling with rebar, concrete, and an asphalt road across Mailiilii-Puuhulu Stream. She reported this to the City and State, but nothing was done. She heard that the inspectors were “threatened.” As of today, DeCampo reported that the EPA and Civil Defense have surveyed the stream.

“One of the major challenges is that most of the streams along the Wai`anae Coast are privately owned, making it difficult for the city and state to monitor and clear the streams,” Shimabukuro continued.

Shimabukuro is considering legislation this session toward making streams and waterways part of the public trust. “This would probably require a study to evaluate the pros and cons, feasibility, costs, and other factors. But we must do something to help government keep these streams clear to prevent future floods,” Shimabukuro urged.

Civil Defense, FEMA, area legislators and others will meet on Monday to discuss plans to clear debris from the Wai`anae Coast streams and provide aid to flood victims. They will meet with members of the press as follows:
  • What: Civil Defense, FEMA, Legislators Discuss Wai`anae Coast Flood Relief Plans
  • When: Monday, January 12, 2009; 12:45pm
  • Where: Makaha Marketplace, 84-1170 Farrington Hwy. (corner of Farrington Hwy. and Makaha Valley Road, old “Cornet Building”)
Residents hope action will be taken soon. “The rocks at the bottom of the Puuhulu Bridge must be cleared immediately,” DeCampo urged.

“All the streambeds along the Wai`anae Coast must be cleared; it’s rainy season, and we can’t take another flood, in this or any other community,” Shimabukuro said.

Rep. Maile Shimabukuro
Office: 586-8460
Cell: 349-3075

Edward Teixeira, Vice Director of Civil Defense

Thelma Dreyer, Assistant Communications Director
Office: 587-7242
Cell: 589-7129
Email: dreyer@capitol.hawaii.gov

Lualualei Valley Flood Victims' Contact Information:
William McCorriston, attorney for David Souza, 529-7401, mccorriston@m4law.com
(Note: Illegal dumping in Mailiilii-Puuhulu Stream can be seen from David Souza's property)
Monique DeCampo intuition@inix.com
Vince Dodge aipohaku@hotmail.com
Poka Laenui plaenui@pixi.com
Puanani Burgess puananiburgess@aol.com
William Aila, Jr. ailaw001@hawaii.rr.com

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