Iselle: Updates for Aug. 11

Vacationland-Kapoho Community Meeting (8/11/14)

UPDATED (2:21 PM on 8/11/2014)

Drone aerial video coverage of Tropical Storm Iselle damage in Puna by Prime Footage.

UPDATED (11:48 AM on 8/11/2014)

Photos by Hawaiian Electric Company of the devestated areas of the Big Island by Tropical Storm Iselle along with crews and equipment from Oahu being sent over to speed repairs to the power grid.

Power restoration update from Hawai‘i Electric Light

Hilo, August 11, 2014, 11:00 a.m. – Crews from Hawai‘i Electric Light will be joined today by O‘ahu crews from Hawaiian Electric as work continues on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle.

Additional field crews are being brought in from the Mainland. Contract construction crews are also supplementing the restoration workforce.

“We understand this is a difficult time for our customers, so we’re essentially tripling our workforce and doing everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawai‘i Electric Light spokesman.

Crews have been able to stabilize the island’s transmission system, which serves as the backbone of the electric grid and is essential to maintaining service. Restoration efforts are now focused on neighborhoods that are still without power. Power was restored Sunday night to portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Today, crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Paauilo Mauka, Orchidland, Fern Acres, and Mountain View. Electrical line crews are also working in Ainaloa and Leilani Estates subdivisions. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Hawai‘i Electric Light expects to be able to have crews working tomorrow in Hawaiian Beaches and the remaining portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

In many areas, the restoration process involves three significant processes, each requiring different sets of work crews. First, in many cases tree trimming crews must clear away fallen trees and other debris so crews may access the areas. Second, excavation crews must dig new holes so replacement utility poles may be set. Depending on soil and terrain issues, this can be a time consuming process. Finally, electrical line crews will set new poles and repair downed power lines.

Some locations do not require replacement of downed utility poles. In these cases, electrical line crews are working to repair fallen power lines and other repairs needed to restore power. In these cases, restoration is faster than in areas that require pole replacements.

“Our customers will see many different crews and vehicles from different companies working in their neighborhoods. They are all part of our collective effort to restore power,” Pai said.
Customers are reminded not to approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Hawai‘i Electric Light also today opened a Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center.

The centers will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

In addition, Hawaiian Beaches Water Company will be on hand at the Customer Information Center to distribute water for free. Each family may receive up to five gallons of water and must bring their own containers.

(Video courtesy of TVNweather)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Three days after Tropical Storm Iselle crippled much of Puna, thousands are still without power and crews continue to clear roads of downed trees and poles.

The county Emergency Operations Center remained in recovery mode late Sunday, as preliminary damage reports trickled in.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, the county had reports that 146 houses suffered some damage, as well as four businesses. The extent of the damage was not clear.

Damage also was reported to at least 115 public infrastructure sites, including roads, power poles and bridges.

A county spokesman cautioned the numbers are just the beginning and are expected to rise as authorities carve through trees and debris blocking roads to some of the remote subdivisions and neighborhoods.

Thousands of trees still clog roadway in Puna District, which covers nearly 500 square miles – roughly the same size as the entire island of Oahu – and is home to more than 40,000 people.

Coveted for its rural location, Puna District includes some 55,000 property lots, or nearly 45 percent of Hawaii County’s total subdivided lots.

Hawaiian Paradise Park alone consists of about 10,000 lots, about half of which have dwellings or are maintained. The other half typically are untouched and overgrown with myriad albizia trees.

Albizia trees were imported in the early 1900s from Indonesia to restore Hawaii’s forests, but now are considered an invasive species. They can grow to 120 feet tall, with brittle branches and shallow roots, which makes them vulnerable to crashing down in wind or rain.

Just six months ago, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee’s Abizia Demonstration Project, in collaboration with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the county Department of Public Works, began hacking down trees that threatened homes and roadways.

“We’re still out there clearing the roads,” a county spokesman said. “It’s safe to say this is the largest tree-clearing operation in our history.”

Meanwhile, HELCO crews from across the island will get some reinforcements Monday as crews from Oahu and Maui arrive to help tackle the overwhelming job.

With so many families displaced and damaged homes unsecured, reports of possible looting, trespassing and suspicious behavior have been popping up on social media sites.

More than two dozen National Guard troops are patrolling neighborhoods in the hardest hit areas of Puna. Although not armed, they are providing a visible presence and extra safety and security to residents.

The county Police Department also is on scene at a ‘higher than usual saturation,’ the spokesman said.

Anyone who spots any suspicious activity or illegal behavior is urged to call 911 immediately.

As the weekend winds down, the county Civil Defense Emergency Operations Center will continue to manned by essential and support staff 24 hours a day.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Iselle’s arrival late Thursday and the disaster emergency period will extend through at least Friday.

During this time, county and state officials will work with representatives from federal agencies to determine what resources and assistance can be provided. More information will become available as plans are in place.



The Hawaii Red Cross shelter at Aunty Sally’s Kaleohano’s Luau in Hilo tranistions Sunday evening to the Pahoa Community Center.

It will remain open to support families impacted by the storm. No pets are allowed in this shelter.

The Red Cross recommends people prepare emergency kits for seven days and bring their emergency supplies with them to shelters.

The move is in partnership with the county Civil Defense.



All schools will be open Monay except Waiakea High School and Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu.

The school bus system will be operational however if a bus stop is damaged students may need to be dropped at a nearby undamaged bus stop.



Voters from two precincts in Puna can expect absentee ballots in the mail. They were prevented from voting in Saturday’s primary election as the polling places were inaccessible following the storm.

Further details are expected from the state and county elections offices.

At least three races, plus the slate of OHA Trustee nominees, will be included.

In addition to the local County Council and state House of Representative races, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate still is up for grabs.

Incumbent Brian Schatz leads challenger Colleen Hanabusa by 1,635 votes. The two Puna precincts include more than 8,000 voters. With about 1,500 voting early, that leaves approximately 6,500 ballots still be cast and will decided the race.

Both candidates appeared Sunday at the traditional Unity breakfast in Honolulu and both had immediate plans to visit the Big Island.

County officials cautioned that the recovery efforts necessitate an ‘apolitical environment’ and both candidates stressed public safety has to take priority.

“We got to think about the people first and know what they are dealing with, and water and just getting the roads cleared, those are the things that are more important,” Hanabusa said.

“Making sure that the people in those communities are back up and running with electricity and water and ice and food and supplies as soon as possible, and then of course we’re going get into it,” Schatz said. “We’re going to have an election to conduct.”



While crews are just beginning to discover the extent of damage to residential and commercial buildings, farmers also are venturing out into their fields.

Any damage estimate appears to be some time off, but Ken Love, long-time Kona farmer advocate, already has reached out to the USDA Farm Service Agency.

He shared this response:

I would ask that the producers contact their local FSA office ( early this week to provide a quick summary of the impacts so that the County Emergency Boards and the State Emergency Board can assess the general nature of the impacts and determine if there is appropriate levels of damages to warrant requesting a Secretarial Disaster Designation.

Farm Service Agency will be providing additional information in the coming days and weeks, but here is a quick overview of what may be available to qualifying producers.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) may be available to assist with repairing damage to the land and possibly fencing.

Tree Assistance Program (TAP) can assist qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers with replanting and rehabilitating their orchards.

Farm Service Agency does provide low interest loans to qualifying producers that may assist with recovery, and those with existing FSA loans should visit early with their loan officer if they anticipate having problems making payments.

Of course those with Crop Insurance covered under Risk Management Agency should contact their insurance agent directly.

Again, please ask producers to contact their county office early this week.

Diane L. Ley
State Executive Director
Hawaii and Pacific Basin
USDA Farm Service Agency



Donations are being accepted at the Food Pantry, Hawaii Red Cross, and many local businesses.

More information can be found at the Facebook page ‘Iselle Recovery Assistance – Offers and Requests.’

* Liko Lehua Cafe and Gourmet Butter

We will be back at the Pahoa Community Center again Monday night with hot food. Cafe is consolidating and accepting donations. People are asking about financial donations. I gotta coordinate with Suisan or Y. Hata and people can contribute there so I can buy the food and paper goods. I’m outta resources and cooked what I had in the cafe. Now it’s up to the people in Hilo to help where they can.”

* Hilo Coffee Mill

Offering free wifi, phone charging and coffee Monday. If you’re without electricity and need a place to get on the internet, charge your phone or just need a hot cup of coffee, we’ll be here for you all day. Open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

* KapohoKine Adventures

We have found a truck in Kona prepared to bring ice to Puna on Tuesday. If you’ve got ice to spare or work anywhere with an ice machine in West Hawaii let us know how many pounds you can spare and it will be picked up and delivered. Email

In addition, those looking to give supplies may drop them off 3:30-5:30 p.m. Monday at Makuu Farmers Market.

Also needed is ice (Frozen one-gallon Ziploc Bags or what ever you can use to freeze water) as well as bottled water and canned goods.

Drop off noon-1 p.m. Monday at the following locations:

1) Volcanoʻs Kilauea General Store & Lava Rock Cafe

2) Shipman Park in Keaau

3) Kilauea Kreations II Quilt Shop, 680 Manono Street in Hilo

Distribution will be 3:30-5:30 p.m. Monday at Makuu Farmers Market.


* Shear Magic Pet Salon

As a way of showing support for all of the pet owners who are without electricity or who have had to relocate until power is restored, Shear Magic Pet Salon will be offering a 20% discount on boarding beginning Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. This will apply for all boarding dates ending Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Please let us know you were affected by the storm and we’ll apply the discount.

Please remember you must show proof that your pet is current with all vaccinations. This is for the protection of your pets and others they may be in contact with.

We’ll be open 8 a.m. Monday. Call us at 808-935-5630. We’re located at 711 Kanoelehua Ave. close to the Hilo Airport exit.

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