Waipio Valley residents concerned for safety after permits revoked
Morgan Toledo's family has lived in the heart of Waipio for generations.
Forecasters were concerned Hurricane Lane's torrential rains would wash out one of Hawaii Island's steepest valleys. Downpours hammered Waipio Valley but severe flooding never surfaced.
Residents attribute that to the community's maintenance of a massive stream but they say getting permission to up-keep the waterway is an uphill battle.
Morgan Toledo's family has lived in the heart of Waipio for generations. His property sits right off of this running stream. He knows first hand what goes down after a major storm.
"I see big trees going down the river and at my house. All you hear is crack and I don't want to go close because it sounds really bad," Toledo said.
Maintaining the valley's streams to avoid backups has always been a part of life in the valley. But in recent years, federal regulated permits have become a requirement.
"I take the stones and boulders out of the river in a make it up high and the stream goes down so I can take the volume of water when the flood comes," Toledo said.
Maintenance permits were revoked earlier this year after an anonymous complaint. And now an ongoing investigation has forced residents to put work off.
State Senator Lorraine Inouye supports re-establishing permits but the approval lies in the hands of the army corps of engineers.
"Those that own the Kalo farms have to wait weeks for someone or the state or DOA from the you weigh or the state to hurry on down there to assist them," Inouye said.
Life in treasured Waipio continues to thrive but residents fear the next big rain could cripple their precious valley.