Canoe clubs across the state will be coming to Oahu for the state championships happening on Aug. 6.
The state is still under a brown water advisory, and canoe club members are pitching in to help clean up the mess left behind by Tropical Storm Darby.
The shoreline at Keehi Lagoon remains covered with debris and garbage. Paddlers say the conditions Monday were the worst they had ever seen at the lagoon.
On Thursday, 808 Cleanups volunteers will be out, starting at 7 a.m., to help canoe club members with the cleanup — a massive effort that could take several days. Plans include removing debris and even structures.
“In this area, there is a couch inside there and a refrigerator inside the water,” said Luana Froiseth, Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (OHCRA) president. “We need dumpsters. We need garbage trucks. We need people to clean up — whatever anyone can get, let’s just get it done.”
Froiseth is calling on volunteers to help clean up the area Thursday. Organizers have never had to cancel a state championship and don’t plan to do that now.
On Tuesday, members of the Keola O Ke Kai canoe club picked up plastic bottles and rubbish from the shoreline, but the cleanup could take days to complete.
“This is huge. This is definitely one of the biggest ones we’ve dealt with, absolutely,” said Michael Loftin, 808 Cleanups executive director.
Loftin says he saw the need and organized a volunteer cleanup on Thursday from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
If you plan on volunteering, you’re encouraged to wear boots, and bring sturdy gloves to protect your hands. If you have any gardening tools, like shovels or rakes, you’re asked to bring those as well.
“What we are looking to do is see if we can get some heavy machinery involved, like front-loaders,” Loftin said. “We noted earlier how there might be needles and other hazardous materials in here, so we don’t want people reaching in.”
The state remains under a brown water advisory and the Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch says samples will be collected Thursday for testing.
“When we have a big storm event, we can’t be out there posting signs all over the place,” said Watson Okubo. “There is no need to take samples, because we know the bacteria counts are going to be high.”
On Tuesday, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources told KHON2 it doesn’t have the resources to help with trash pickup everywhere, and when we checked back Wednesday, we were told the area is not in its jurisdiction.
However, officials later confirmed staff from the DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will be on hand to monitor for damage to aquatic resources in order to determine any potential mitigation or recovery efforts that will need to be undertaken, and look for large debris items that may have washed into near-shore waters and beyond.
The City and County’s parks department said park workers have been helping canoe club members clean up, and will also be participating in the cleanup.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, OHCRA is holding a meeting at Radford High School to discuss the Oahu championship, which was canceled Sunday due to Darby.
The organization has been struggling to find a new location, and Froiseth says it will likely be canceled so they can focus on the cleanup and the state championship.