Streams, drainage inspected as city, state work to avoid repeat of Darby

There’s lots of anxiety for residents who are still recovering from last month’s flood due to Tropical Storm Darby.

Residents of Hale Umi Condominiums are worried about Kalihi Stream, which is right next door. They’re counting on city crews to clean it out well before the storms arrive.

“It needs attention. It needs to be attended to now,” said resident Leslie Awana.

You can understand why she’s worried. Awana is one of the families living on the ground floor of Hale Umi condominiums. Overflow from Kalihi Stream went straight into their homes with the water reaching up to three feet high.

Some of her neighbors have moved out temporarily so their homes can be renovated. With two storms approaching, she wants the stream cleared out.

“Nothing’s been done. Every day I go out there when the rains come heavy and I go out there and look, uh-oh, here we go,” Awana says. “It’s a scary feeling to think that you’re here and nothing’s been cleaned out. I mean whatever was left from Darby is still back there.”

We took her concerns to the city.

“They’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and clearing and that activity will continue in advance of the storm,” said Ross Sasamura, city facility maintenance director.

The city says crews have already checked the stream and there are no obstructions, but officials are asking nearby residents not to dump anything in the stream because that caused it to overflow.

“Be mindful of the fact that streams, canals, and drainage ways are intended to be used for the actual flow of storm water, not to be used as a means of disposing debris, green waste, garbage trash, or other unwanted items,” Sasamura said.

A lot of trash and tree branches wound up by the Dillingham Bridge, which also caused flooding on Kamehameha Highway and damaged Handi-Vans parked in the city transit center.

We also checked on the state Department of Transportation to see what’s been done since the H-1 Freeway was flooded by School Street. Several cars were stranded on the freeway because water was getting inside the engines.

The DOT says there’s nothing wrong with the drainage on the freeway itself, it’s just that some of the trees are causing the water to flow away from the storm drains.

We’re still waiting to hear back from the DOT spokesman to see if any changes will be made. The state did announce that it will not perform the monthly siren testing scheduled for Thursday, because it might cause confusion with the two storms approaching.

The Coast Guard is also asking boaters to make sure to keep their vessels secured. Smaller boats should be pulled out of the water and stored in a safe location.

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