Flooding, Bridge, Airfield, MDA Radar, Roadway

Representatives Sean Quinlan, Lauren Matsumoto, Lisa Kitagawa, Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi and I held a series of virtual town hall meetings last week, focusing two of the discussions on the flash floods that struck Haleiwa and Hauula on March 9th. We appreciate the participation of our city and state emergency response directors, dam safety, flooding, stream clearance and bridge safety experts, and the hundreds of residents who were able to login. The meetings can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/SenatorGilRiviere


As the massive rain clouds moved over Hauula and across the Koolaus, the upper Opaeula Stream gauge recorded the following stream height and flow measurements: 4.5’ and 366 cubic feet per second (cf/s) at 1:30 pm, then 7’ and 1260 cf/s at 2:30 pm. Over the next 45 minutes, the reading jumped to 16’ stream height and 7280 cf/s. The flash flood was moving.



Meanwhile, due to heavy rain over another part of the Koolaus, the water height at Lake Wilson surged from 65’ to 82’. Water flows over the spillway into Kaukonahua Stream at 80’, so that stream was flowing quickly, but not at a flooding level. The lake and the dam functioned as designed.


Unfortunately, a post flood survey of the Waialua Beach Rd bridge at Kiikii Stream revealed heavy wear and damage to its structural integrity and the bridge was promptly closed. A thorough, underwater structural survey and engineering analysis is underway, and it is not yet known what repairs will be required to safely reopen.


Efforts to save Kawaihapai Airfield now include participation by Attorney General Clare Connors to expedite negotiations with the Army on securing a long-term lease. A recent site visit by Congressman Kai Kahele, Lt. Governor Josh Green, me, Rep. Matsumoto, Sen. Chris Lee, CM Tsuneyoshi, DOT, Army and lineal descendant Thomas Shirai generated a burst of positive energy. Although the future of the airfield in not certain, we remain fully engaged to save this important asset.


The Missile Defense Agency is planning to build a large, powerful radar system in Hawaii and they have narrowed the search to two locations: one next to the Kahuku Motocross Track above Waialee, and the other next to the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai. An environmental impact analysis is being conducted and the public is encouraged to submit comments until April 12, 2021. I will be submitting comments in strong opposition to placing the system on Oahu. Details on the proposal and how you can submit comments are at https://hdrheis.com/


Our terrible roads are even worse after the heavy rains. Long overdue and harsh on our vehicles is repair of the highway from the end of the H2 freeway to Haleiwa. After years of delays, a contract has been let and work should soon begin. The potholed highway near Sunset Beach is scheduled for contract bidding later this year, so maybe it can be repaired by next year. Stay safe and be careful out there.



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