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Islanders pull together in recovery efforts

August 9, 2014 - 12:05am

Storm-strength winds snapped trees and power poles across the Big Island, but Iselle appeared to do little to dampen the resolve of isle residents on the first day of recovery.

As they emerged from their homes Friday morning, many began rolling up their sleeves to clear their streets and driveways, while providing a helping hand to their neighbors.

“This is all 15th Street work,” said Ty Armitase, as he pointed down his road in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Following the arrival of Iselle, which made landfall as a tropical storm late Thursday, the street became covered in fallen albizia trees.

“It was like firecrackers,” he said, describing the sound of trees snapping one after another.

Armitase said he and his neighbors began to clear the road with their own equipment rather than wait for help.

As of noon Friday, no work crews had yet to make it to his area of the private subdivision.

And there was still work left to be done.

Power poles snapped by falling trees left utility lines crossing driveways, and several residents said they were leaving them in place rather than test their luck.

Sonny Dukes said he saw a similar situation in Hawaiian Shores.

There, residents also put their chainsaws to use to clear roadways but some trees proved to be a job too big, he said.

“It looks like a war zone,” Dukes said.

“That’s the one thing is people here will help each other,” he later added. “They see a problem, they will try to help.”

Likely complicating the situation is the mix of private and public roads some subdivisions have, making it unclear who has jurisdiction. Large trees also covered major routes, such as the Pahoa-Kapoho Road, which kept county crews busy.

Dukes said his neighborhood association also had another major problem to deal with after a water line broke.

Power remained an issue and in some areas residents said they weren’t expecting it to come back anytime soon.

Dukes said he lost power at 3 p.m. Thursday. Twenty-four hours later, he said he has not seen a repair crew.

Looking at the snapped power pole leaning against the fence of an HPP resident’s house, Petra Marcus estimated it would take more than a few days.

“I have a feeling the power is going to be out for a long time,” she said.