Overgrown ditch causes flood concerns for Kaneohe residents

As Madeline and Lester approach the islands, an overgrown ditch is causing flood concerns for Kaneohe residents.

The irrigation ditch runs along Benjamin Parker Elementary School, with homes on the other side.

The State Department of Education says it is responsible for maintaining it, but it’s still trying to find a contractor to cut the overgrown brush and trees.

We brought this up with the DOE last week after residents shared their concerns.

Residents are hoping that at least part of the ditch can be cleared out so water from the mountains can keep flowing, instead of what happened during Tropical Storm Darby when it rushed out toward homes.

Uluwehi Malama says there was about a foot of water in her backyard, and she’s grateful it never went inside the house.

But she’s not sure if she and her neighbors will be as lucky when the next storm comes.

“Everybody along here is at risk for flooding because this is a downward slope from the school, so the water will run down into here and then add to it,” she said.

Malama has been trying to get the DOE to cut down the brush for the past 10 months. When we pressed the state on Friday, a spokeswoman told us that contractors visited the site over the weekend.

DOE is now waiting for bids to follow procurement laws, so nothing can be done before the two storms arrive.

“Anxious. That’s the big word, very anxious because what are we going to do if it goes over and damages our stuff or if it just comes over and puts everybody in danger? Then what?” Malama said.

When we asked the DOE again to see if anything can be done, we received a statement that said: “We remain committed to getting this ditch cleared once we are able to hire a contractor to do the work. We requested assistance from County crews, but it seems unlikely due to their current workload.”

It’s unclear when exactly a contractor will be able to clear the ditch, but we’ll continue to follow up until we get results.

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