Residents of three Waikoloa village neighborhoods had to clear out each morning this week, so crews with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could conduct searches and hunt for some of the unexploded ordinances left over from the area was called the Waikoloa Maneuver Area and used for military training during World War II.
"When they were building other sections of the subdivision we seen a big explosion, you could see it was a bomb," Daveline Ching, a Waikoloa resident said.
Like more than a hundred other families, Ching has been disrupted by the daily evacuations, as residents are relocated to a nearby park if they have no where else to go. She has lived along Kekumo Place for the past 17 years, and wonders why the sudden search for left over mortars, grenades or other war-time explosives.
"Around surrounding areas there have been bombs, I assumed our place was safe, but not they come to check our place, what's the situation?" Ching said.
Waikoloa is one of the state's formerly used defense cleanup sites, and thousands of munitions have already been cleared there. But recent efforts by the county to develop more than a thousand units of much needed affordable housing for West Hawaii was put on hold because the federal government found out about the potential hazards in the ground.
"For two years we have been working with the Department of Housing but then they were made aware of the unexploded ordinance. HUD placed restrictions on the development, and effectively stopped any development," Will Okabe, managing director for Hawaii County said.
Waikoloa is one example of the U.S. Corps of Engineers' cleanup paradigm, but only about a third of the 100,000 acres have been swept clean.
it is not the only site on the Big Island, a much smaller area in Puna is also on the list.
That also includes Kanahena Pt. on the southern side of Maui, and an area on Kalaupapa on the northern side of Molokai. As well as a number of sites on Oahu from the Pali to Punaluu. All former training grounds for the military.
For Waikoloa residents, If a potential unexploded ordinance is found, experts will try to remove it, if they can't, it will be blown up in place. But the work won't last long, evacuations will only last through Friday.
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