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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Trouble in Paradise...

AP: KILAUEA, Hawaii - Searchers with dogs looked for bodies in the mud and debris Wednesday after a break in a century-old earthen dam released a roaring, tree-snapping torrent of water and raised fears about the safety of dozens of similar dams across Hawaii.

Search crews found one body and looked for as many as six other missing people who had been staying in the same house on the island of Kauai, including a couple who were to be married Saturday.

The Coast Guard search for victims extended eight miles out to sea. Searchers found a man's body in debris a half mile offshore.

Officials feared another dam downstream might also fail, and crews worked to pump water out of its reservoir. Structural experts arrived to inspect the reservoir, as heavy rains continued across the island. The showers were expected to persist through Friday.

Nearly all of Hawaii's dams were built early in the past century before federal or state standards existed. Many date to the 1890s, when sugar plantations dotted the islands. Like the dam on the Kaloko Reservoir, many are privately owned earthen structures.

In October, the American Society of Civil Engineers said at least 22 dams in the Hawaiian Islands had deficiencies that raised safety concerns. The society has been monitoring 130 dams in Hawaii. The dam on the Kaloko Reservoir was not on the list of dams rated "high-hazard" structures that could cause deaths and significant damage if they failed.

Kuhio Highway, the only roadway running along Kauai's north shore, was damaged by debris and water, cutting off thousands of residents and tourists. It reopened late Wednesday.


Although not the island where I'd like to retire someday, I feel a certain fondness for all of the Hawaiian islands, and Kauai is particularly beautiful; I hope that these concerns can be dealt with before anyone else loses their life because of a similar occurrence...

16 Comments:

Blogger Ms. RightWing, Ink said...

first? Oh just a holdover from scrapple.

I thought of you when I read this.

And you tried to talk me into moving there.

March 16, 2006 1:06 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

Ms. RightWing, Ink:
I'm still planning to move there someday...but not downstream of any 100+ year old earthen dams on Kauai. I've got designs on a little piece of desert at the 1000' elevation on the Big Island, (the one the State is named for) Hawaii.

If that area ever gets flooded, the entire planet will have been inundated, so it would scarcely matter...

March 16, 2006 1:25 AM  
Blogger onlineanalyst said...

It's hard to see or learn of a place we love being ravaged by Mother Nature or by the prideful hand of man. Events like these show us how fragile our lives are...even in this side of Paradise.

March 16, 2006 5:55 AM  
Blogger MargeinMI said...

Wow. It sounds like the system of dams in Appalacia. I'd be building high too!

March 16, 2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger cave_nate said...

Sort of like the Johnstown Flood of 1889. that was a earth dam that got breached due to poor design and age. But much worst results in that case.

March 16, 2006 8:08 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

onlineanalyst:
It's a pity that people have to die sometimes before action is taken to prevent similar future mishaps.

MargeinMI:
Yes. I wouldn't be building downhill from where the volcano's been erupting, either.

cave_nate:
Lots more fatalities in the Johnstown Flood, true. But we have better technology now, and therefore less excuse for allowing this sort of thing to happen.

For example, all the money that had been earmarked to improve the levees in Louisiana being diverted to various politicians' "pet" projects...

March 16, 2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger 'da Bunny said...

My first thought...what a shame to have people dying/missing, property damaged, and disaster in such a beautiful place. God help them.

My second thought...where's FEMA? And, why aren't we seeing any native Hawaiians on TV telling us that George Bush "hates brown people?" [I know, I'm being a smart alec...]

March 16, 2006 10:42 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

'da Bunny:
Excellent example of the distinction between people accustomed to doing things for themselves...and people accustomed to having others do things for them.

March 16, 2006 11:00 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Dagnabit, da Bunny....you stole my thunder.When will the investigations begin asking "what did Bush know and when did he know it"?

March 16, 2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger camojack said...

Maggie:
Did you ever notice that nobody ever asks who did Bush know, and why does he know them?

Inquiring minds an' all...

March 16, 2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

As communications become better and better, we hear about more such tragedies every day. I sometimes wonder if things weren't better when we didn't learn so much so fast... you know, ignorance is bliss?

March 16, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger mig said...

I grew up in Hanalei but that was many moons ago and the dam wasn't a hundred years old, only 60. Bridges and Dams. Alot of old stuff around here in the US. Gettin' creaky like the rest of us...

March 16, 2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

So this isn't the fault of Bush and the Government of the US? A talk show guy was satirically talking about the tornados in mo and Ill, the other noght,and he said "This just proves that Bush hate white people".He was kidding ,but when did we turn into this nation of whining victims? Are we all so stupid we can't take any responsibility for ourselves?

March 16, 2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Hawkeye®:
Ignorance is only bliss until you learn that about which you were ignorant. I prefer to be well informed, forewarned being forearmed and all.

mig:
Obviously older infrastructure needs to be maintained, repaired and/or replaced wherever it exists; a higher priority should be placed upon such things, before completely new projects are initiated.

Barb:
We've had this victim mentality/pathology with us in certain sectors for quite awhile now, unfortunately...but it is by no means universal.

March 16, 2006 8:23 PM  
Blogger Grant Jones said...

Aloha,

Thanks for this update. I have taken the opportunity to vent on the gross stupidity and corruption the the Hawaii Democratic Party.

March 16, 2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

Grant Jones:
You're welcome. I think the politicos need to quit skimming a lot of sources for their various agendas.

Apparently a lot of those earthen dams are privately owned, but they should still have to meet some type of safety standards, and their condition ought to be monitored (at the very least) by some government entity...

March 16, 2006 8:53 PM  

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