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Pahoa Roundabout Contract Awarded – Pre-Construction On Schedule To Begin In September

The state Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises motorists well in advance of an upcoming detour as it plans for construction of the new Pahoa Roundabout on Hawaii Island. Beginning in mid- to late September the HDOT anticipates construction signage will begin to go up and construction preparation work will begin as the contractor prepares a temporary detour route.

pahoa round

The detour is anticipated to be put in place in mid- to late October, closing the Pahoa Bypass and diverting traffic onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard.

Detour conditions will be as follows:

  • Complete closure of Pahoa Bypass Road from Pahoa Village Road to Kahakai Boulevard
  • 24-hour detour onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Detour speed limit of 25 mph
  • Left turn pocket lane created for Pahoa Marketplace

The $4.8 million project awarded to Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd, in June of 2014, is expected to begin pre-construction activities in September with completion in summer of 2015. The purpose of this project is to provide a safe, efficient, and accessible facility for all users including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists. The project was needed to address safety and traffic congestion as well as address future increases in traffic volumes.

The HDOT is working to schedule a public meeting prior to opening the upcoming detour. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for early October. Please stay tuned as more information on the meeting will be forthcoming as the date, time and location are finalized.

 

Medical Grants Available for Children in Hawaii

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is seeking grant applications from families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan or TRICARE.

Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant with a lifetime maximum of $10,000 per child to help pay for medical services and equipment such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, counseling services, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

To be eligible for a grant, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and have TRICARE or a commercial health insurance plan. Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at www.UHCCF.org, and there is no application deadline.

In 2013, UHCCF awarded more than 1,700 medical grants, worth $5.6 million, to children and their families across the United States for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

UHCCF was founded in 1999. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 7,500 medical grants, totaling more than $23 million, to children and their families across the United States.

“Thousands of children struggle every day for something many of us take for granted – our health. That reality is the driving force behind UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation’s mission to help families in need access medical care that will improve their child’s health. Our medical grants have already helped thousands of children in need, and we are looking to help thousands’ more children in the future,” said David Heywood, president, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii.

New children’s book to raise funds

To help raise funds for its child medical grant program, UHCCF has published a new children’s book, “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” – the second book in the Oliver & Hope series.

Oliver

The new 32-page hand-illustrated book continues the story of Oliver the lovable bear and Hope the spirited butterfly as they join their friends Millie the barn owl and Chewie the English bulldog for their first camping trip. The night is filled with amazing discoveries and silly games that make the shadows a little less scary and the adventure a lot more fun. The book follows last year’s award-winning book, “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure.”

Both “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” and “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure” are available on Amazon.com for $13.95 each. The first 250 people who purchase an “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” book will receive a Chewie the English bulldog plush toy, to be shipped separately.

Proceeds from UHCCF products, including the Oliver & Hope books, help fund UHCCF grants that help families pay for children’s medical expenses not covered, or not fully covered, by commercial insurance. Also, organizations and private donors can make tax-deductible donations to UHCCF at www.UHCCF.org. Donations are used for grants to help children and families in the region in which they are received.

Both books were written and illustrated by Meg Cadts and Samantha Fitch. Meg Cadts is the pen name for the UHCCF team of writers and contributors.

The Oliver and Hope characters also host their own page on the UHCCF website, Oliver & Hope’s Clubhouse (www.UHCCF.org/oliverandhope), which features free audiobook versions of the books, activities and games.

For more information on UHCCF and to visit the clubhouse, visit www.UHCCF.org.

 

HELCO Power Restoration Update – 1,200 Remain Without Power

Hawaii Electric Light continues to restore electric service to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. Service to an additional 300 customers was restored Monday. Currently, an estimated 1200 customers remain without power.

Significant progress has been made in Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Pockets of customers within these areas may still be out of power. Customers in those areas who are still without power should report it by calling 969-6666.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews are focused on the following areas:

  • Nanawale Estates – electrical line crews are working on power lines throughout the subdivision. Work also continues on digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Lanipuna Gardens – electrical line crews are working on repairs on the main line providing service to the subdivision, as well as side streets.
  • Leilani Estates – electrical line crews are working on Kahukai Street and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.
  • Kapoho – electrical line crews are working on lines that provide service to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we make progress. In some neighborhoods, although main power lines have been restored, individual outages may need to be addressed home by home,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Restoration progress may also be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, estimates indicate it could approximately another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Customer Information Center in Puna

Hawaii Electric Light’s Customer Information Center was relocated on Aug. 16 to Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna, and will remain open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues. The center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches is closed.

Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station also will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there.

Restoring PowerBackground on restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

Leaders Begin Process of Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan for Albizia on the Big Island

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today.  Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today. Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Agreement was reached by all parties that all levels of government share responsibility for dealing with the hazard that these trees pose, and that the federal, state, and county government would provide financial and other resources towards this mitigation plan. HELCO also agreed, subject to approval by the PUC, to participate in the hazard mitigation program.

The next steps are to assemble all key stakeholders, and develop a hazard mitigation plan with a budget, and determine cost sharing. The target timeframe is to assemble the key stakeholders, and develop a preliminary hazard mitigation plan as soon as possible.

“Albizia wreaked havoc on power infrastructure and damaged private property, and we have to work together to minimize the likelihood that this happens again. I’m thankful for Mayor Kenoi’s leadership and assistance in helping to put together the resources necessary to mitigate this problem.”

Congresswoman Gabbard Releases Details on Steps to Get Federal Aid for Puna

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released details on the next steps that must be taken to quickly and effectively bring federal aid to Puna residents on Hawaiʻi Island whose homes and property were damaged by Hurricane Iselle.

Hayden and Tulsi Squatting

The congresswoman spent Friday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and employees of the Hawaiʻi County Office of Housing visiting people’s homes and meeting with residents, as FEMA assessed the cost of damages and gathered information for a detailed report that will be submitted to Governor Abercrombie. The governor will then be able to request federal aid from President Obama through a disaster declaration.

“I’m urging FEMA, Hawaiʻi County, the governor, and President Obama to expedite the process of declaring Iselle’s devastation a natural disaster so that the people of Puna can receive immediate help,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, whose congressional district includes all of Hawaiʻi Island. “I’ve met with residents who have lost everything, and though they’ve shown strength, resiliency, and compassion for their neighbors, many families in Puna are looking for federal assistance to start putting their lives back together after this overwhelming storm.”

FEMA assessments have been finalized except for a small category to be completed today. Although homes and residential area assessments are complete, the infrastructure damage evaluation will take another two to three more days. The governor and his staff are working through all of the assessment details now and will request federal aid from President Obama when they’re confident they have all of the pertinent data; they expect to have a timeline by this evening.

On Friday, Rep. Gabbard was briefed by Hawaiʻi Army National Guard Colonel Moses Kaoiwi at Keaukaha Military Reserve’s Emergency Operations Center in Hilo. He showed an overview of the damage caused by Hurricane Iselle on Hawaiʻi Island, and they discussed the progress of relief efforts and plans to move forward.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard continues to work with federal, state, and county officials to ensure that every available resource is being utilized to expedite recovery efforts and provide the services, supplies, and tools that are needed to guarantee the safety, health, and wellbeing of all those affected by Hurricane Iselle. The Disaster Assistance Recovery Centers (DARC) are still operating and federal, state, and local agencies are there to continue assisting people in need. As of this morning, water service has been restored to all areas of Hawaiʻi Island affected by Iselle, while approximately 1,500 customers are still without electricity.