The Iao Valley State Monument on Maui has been closed since mid-September after being hit by what’s being considered as a 100-year event.
A slow moving thunderstorm dropped an enormous amount of rain on Maui Sept. 13-14, causing the Wailuku River and several of its tributaries to escape their banks — not only significantly widening the river bed, but causing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the culturally significant monument.
“Since the flood, we’ve been meeting with our staff, design consultants, and construction contractors to develop debris removal and immediate restoration plans,” said Curt Cottrell, DLNR State Parks Division administrator. “The last flash flooding of this magnitude, according to our records, occurred in 1916, so this truly was a 100-year flood.”
In the six-and-a-half acre park, the Wailuku River bed is double and even triple in width. Flood waters deposited large boulders and uprooted trees in the original river bed, in the newly created stream path and across the park’s grounds.
Concrete walkways and stairways, along with metal safety railings on pedestrian path, were either swept away, mangled, or crumbled in the cascade of flood water.
“The pedestrian bridge across Kinihapai Stream is sound, but we won’t know how sound the bridge footings are until experts get a closer look,” said Larry Pacheco, the Maui branch manager for the Division of State Parks.
The state may consider adding an additional, new, temporary support to augment the existing footing or consider the design and installation of an additional truss element to insure structural integrity. Curt Cottrell, DLNR State Parks Division administrator, said “First, we need to clean up and remove all the debris, mitigate at least three potentially hazardous rockfall locations, and determine what needs to be done to repair the cliff wall immediately below the Monument’s lower parking lot.”
Flood waters cut into the nearly vertical cliff below the parking lot, impacting its stability. Long-term design and construction plans will include stabilizing the parking lot.
Due to the extent of damage, currently there is no way to predict when Iao Valley State Monument can be reopened.