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LETTERS for the September 13 issue

By Staff | Sep 13, 2018

Thanks for helping Lahaina Intermediate after the fire

Lahaina Intermediate School would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the wonderful people out there who made it possible for us to open up to students Tuesday morning after the fire.

To the firefighters, police officers and all of you who were the first to respond to the raging fires that threatened not only our schools but the entirety of the Lahaina community, words cannot express how grateful we are for your giving and selfless spirits, and how proud we are that you belong to us!

To all of those in our Maui community who responded immediately to the needs of our Lahaina families who lost homes, and those who for days were left without power and water, MAHALO!

It seemed instantly that donations were collected and supplies were on the way; signs offering “FREE FOOD, FREE ICE” popped up on Lahainaluna Road, ice and water trucks were spotted driving around Lahainaluna neighborhoods our heroes providing relief and much-needed support.

And finally, to volunteers on Monday who came to our Lahaina schools to help teachers and staff clean up soot in the classrooms and debris around campus, so that our Lahaina keiki could come back to the school they left the week before, we are so appreciative of your time, your supplies and your much-needed energy!

Mahalo to the Hyatt Regency Maui for supplying lunch up at the high school for all of us. And a special thank you to the unknown individual(s) that cleared debris and ash from our LIS planter, replanting it with bright, colorful flowers to greet us Monday morning.

Mahalo to you all for your generosity, your compassion and your kindness. You have filled our hearts.

JAYME DONEZ, PCNC Facilitator, Lahaina Intermediate School


Gemini thanks Maui first responders

On behalf of the Gemini Ohana, we offer our deepest gratitude for the heroic efforts displayed during the recent Hurricane Lane fires and flooding that affected Maui and all of the Hawaiian Islands.

The determination and selflessness displayed while saving not only Lahaina but the entire West Side of Maui will never be forgotten by all of the Gemini Ohana. As a token of our appreciation, we wish to offer all of the men and women of the Maui Police Department, Fire Department, EMT and National Guard a complimentary tour on our daily Sunset Sail along with a guest for the entire month of September 2018.

To book your sail, please call (808) 669-1700 and mention your department. We sincerely appreciate the enormous task that all of Maui’s first responders take on a daily basis and hope that you enjoy an evening out on our catamaran.

Mahalo for all that you do for the island of Maui.



Use Hurricane Lane disaster relief to improve West Maui

Thank you for your kind consideration on the following request for emergency relief resulting from the devastating fire associated with Hurricane Lane. In the words of a Hawaiian woman whose Kuleana neighborhood was burned down: “Thank Ke Akua that no lives were lost!”

Lahaina’s Pioneer Sugar Mill closed in 1999, resulting in thousands of acres of fallow agriculture land neglected for the past two decades. Rather than best use practices of this prime agricultural designated area, most of the land is piecemealed into luxury homes or left vacant for future development.

In the meantime, brush has replaced what were formerly fertile green hillsides. After an especially wet winter followed by an extremely dry summer, it provided the perfect condition for a wild brush fire that swept across the region.

More than 15 houses burned down. Half of them were Hawaiian Kuleana uninsured homes and the others of working class and luxury residents. Valuables, necessities and memories were destroyed in this heartbreaking catastrophe.

Hurricane Lane’s high winds with erratic directions caused the fire to move unexpectedly and violently threatened the majority of the population from Launiupoko to Kaanapali.

Evacuations were sudden, with shelters inadequate to sustain the population affected by the emergency. Lahaina Intermediate School provided Red Cross facilities until the fire forced them to move to Lahaina Civic Center.

Fire engulfed the areas around Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High School, but thanks to effective first responders, the buildings were spared. Teachers, school personnel and volunteers cleaned the classrooms, but no professional remediation team was provided to help. It is above and beyond the call of duty for teachers to have to clean up after a disaster like this.

Trade winds continue to blow ash and contaminated dirt into the schools, homes and businesses from the hundreds of scorched acres. Any wind or rain event will cause the ash to contaminate nearby structures and ultimately affect the federally protected Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary as well as the precious coral reefs.

Storms are inevitable. Any substantial rainfall will have potential for landslides considering the ground stabilizing agents are nonexistent. The proximity of three schools and a densely populated area situated on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains is a concern to the possibility of mudslides. Once again, the ocean will be the ultimate victim of storm water runoff.

When Chicago’s fire devastated their city, they took advantage of the situation. We have an opportunity to do the same if we act quickly enough to ward off the aftermaths of an already disastrous event.

Enact emergency protocol by engaging federal, state, county, non-profits and the private sector to work together with support of the Trump Administration’s disaster relief assistance.

Rather than continue to pollute the nearshore waters with the use of injection wells, utilize the existing infrastructure at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility (LWRF).

The County of Maui is in violation of the Clean Water Act for polluting federally protected waters. Irrigating the scorched hillsides would resolve that issue while providing remediation of Hurricane Lane’s fire. Irrigated land would help reduce how quickly fires spread and prevent wildfires. It also would replenish the groundwater and sustainability for the aquifer.

The LWRF has the capability of pumping treated water to nearby ditches and reservoirs. It was a system put into place many years ago but never utilized, as the water from diverted streams provided enough irrigation during the Plantation Era.

Restore the ditches that are located above the LWRF and along the upper slopes above Lahaina past the school toward Launiupoko, where the fire damage is evident. Reinstate reservoirs or utilize existing ones to allow the treated wastewater to be diluted by fresh water to help reduce the nitrogen.

LWRF already treats the water to R-1 standards, which is allowed for all types of agriculture, including leafy edible vegetables. Irrigate and plant vegetables, coffee and fruit trees, exotic wood forests and pastures for grazing livestock.

Time and again, emergency agencies stressed the need for two-week supplies of food and water. Many families live hand to mouth and would not be able to afford this precaution. Considering the amount of tourists in the region, it is impractical as well. Lahaina’s unique isolated geography warrants special consideration for catastrophic events.

Having irrigated pastures for cattle, goats, sheep as well as piggeries, chicken farms along with fruit and vegetables would provide sustainable supplies of food for everyone. Resources for decontaminating water for potable use should be available at all times for unforeseen disaster prevention.

Rather than continue to allow agriculture land to pose a life-threatening environment for the community, it could be restored to the abundant, life-giving resource of pre-contact days.

Think of the wasted years and loss of tax revenues associated with this neglected farmland. Changing the tax rate from agriculture to urban on underutilized farmland would be a good incentive to start planting and irrigating crops. Considering state agriculture land is also unproductive, they should be held responsible, too.

The state, private corporations and individuals have a precious resource that is currently being abused and neglected. Ultimately, the community is suffering for this irresponsible stewardship, but now is the chance to do what is right.

In unity and with a spirit of cooperation, resolve the imminent threat associated with the toxic remains of the fire. Start planting and irrigating to provide a safe community and help restore the life of the land.

Loi terraces along streams would help stop land-based pollutants from entering the ocean. Considering the millions of dollars spent on flood channels, silt basins and other unattractive alternatives, paying local farmers to plant taro is a beautiful solution.

The West Side community rallied together to support the needs of those affected by the fire and did what needed to be done to get the schools open. Now is your time to act.

Protect this awesome community and preserve our high-income-producing tourist destination with scenic vistas and environmentally safe solutions to this horrific fire. Please act swiftly to ensure the safety of the community, school children, tourists and ocean life.

Working together and taking advantage of relief funding could resolve the charred toxic remains of the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Lane’s fire and “bestow beauty for ashes.”



Tips for the next emergency

1) The news and newspapers should list MAUI local radio stations (name and channel), so we can tune into it. Many stations were Honolulu coverage, Big Island news, blah, blah, blah, when updates were needed.

2) The news and newspapers should announce HOW TO DRIVE. When traffic lights are OUT, treat it as a four-way stop! People were racing through the intersection – NO STOPPING, blasting horns and showing one-finger peace signs! I tried calling radio stations, the county/Mayor’s Office, police and radio – message boxes all full or no answer. I finally got in touch with someone at the police and was told, “Call the radio station – this is the police station!” This person was NOT very professional. I understand we were all busy with the hurricane, two fires in Lahaina and whatever else. Where’s the ALOHA?!

Suggestion: maybe the county/state DOT/MPD have folding stop signs with weights (in case of winds) they can store and deploy when needed. This way, officers can deploy signs and respond to more urgent calls. It won’t take two officers at each traffic light to direct traffic, and officers won’t have to stand in wind or rain. Hopefully people will be more respectful and show aloha!