The rain fell with an intensity yesterday that I have rarely seen, and regular calls exchanged with a friend in Hanalei confirmed that conditions up there were even more dramatic, though not in any way unwelcome.
“We love the rain,” was the message we shared each time we talked, and he was praying for more. As a Hanalei boy, he wasn’t worried, having stocked up on food when the bridge first closed, and relishing the peace and quiet that such a closure always brings.
I found it quite interesting that the big surf, lightning display and deluge coincided with the ‘Aha Ho‘ano that was held at the Wailua beach heiau during a 24-hour period that ran from noon Friday to noon Saturday.
The vigil, marked by chants, prayers and hula, was intended to draw attention to the sacred properties of Wailua, where a bike path is proposed to run along the beach. As The Garden Island reported:
Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua, one of the event’s organizers, said Friday afternoon following the 4 p.m. ceremony that she had “petitioned the elements to help us send a message,” and that she and other practitioners were “energized” by the lightning show, powerful surf and cool, comfortable temperatures.
And the elements responded by sending the most powerful message there is: nature, not man, is still very much in charge.
Just one episode of heavy rain had us reeling, stranded, paralyzed, stuck, complaining, as streams overflowed their banks and rocks and soil slid onto roads.
Many eastside ranchers had their fences knocked down by rushing water, and Farmer Jerry said that even though they’d been dumping water from the upper Kapahi reservoir for days, they couldn’t dump it fast enough. It was very full when I drove by it early Saturday morning, and the Moalepe trail looked like a stream bed.
In Hanalei, where the bridge is still closed this morning, the rain gauge broke yesterday at 13 feet — 7 feet is flooding — and cars were submerged and houses were swamped. An area that's been trashed and degraded in pursuit of the almighty dollar got scoured.
Another friend who lives that side said she walked Hanalei Bay this morning and “it stunk like sewage. There’s no way you can have that kind of development without an impact.” She said the smells reminded her of just how sick our island is because of all the crap — literally and figuratively — that's regularly dumped on it.
Yup, all the sewage and poisons and junk that people think will just stay put get washed all over every place when we get rains like this. (So much for claims that GMO taro could be contained from spreading when the loi are inundated.) Yet we keep pretending that we can make any kine, with no ramifications.
So will the proposed bike path — I mean, multi-use path — get moved off Wailua Beach, which this weekend was littered with debris from a big surf and a flooding river? (Btw, the mayor's office agreed to postpone the stakeholders' meeting, originally scheduled for Friday afternoon, out of deference to those who were participating in the vigil.)
To me, installing a boardwalk there is akin to putting a big piece of trash on the beach, because that’s what it’s ultimately going to be. Sooner or later, a big storm will take it out, and then we’ll have yet more junk floating around in the ocean. Because come on, what is the likelihood that public works will have the time, advance warning and manpower to pull up that boardwalk each time it’s threatened?
Yet a friend who attended the ceremony said that path mastermind Thomas Noyes and Councilman Tim Bynum, even when looking at the swollen river and surf debris on the beach, didn’t see any problem with proceeding.
Farmer Jerry said he remembered times when Wailua Beach would be full on rocky, entirely stripped of sand by big surf. In fact, the rock wall was built to keep beach debris from washing up onto the road, he said.
“People forget about cycles,” he said.
And then nature comes along and delivers a powerful reminder.
Will we heed it?
Do we ever?