January 4, 2024

Olowalu will not be final disposition site, Mayor Bissen announces today

Mayor Richard Bissen announced that Olowalu will not be considered as a final disposition site in remarks today, Jan. 4, 2024, during a recessed meeting of the Maui County Council’s Disaster, Resilience, International Affairs and Planning Committee.

“You have my promise that the Olowalu site will not be used as a permanent site and that the debris will be removed from this temporary site once the permanent site is identified and built,” Mayor Bissen said.

He also thanked scores of people from around the nation who provided seven hours of testimony during the council’s Tuesday meeting on the temporary disposition site of Olowalu. Council is considering Bill 120, which, if approved, will provide a right-of-entry permit for Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors to proceed with their temporary site.

Mayor Bissen continued to urge the community, the council and others to support the temporary site of Olowalu so survivors may return to their properties and rebuild their lives.

“Right now, we have over 12,000 people whose lives have been forever changed by these Lahaina wildfires and close to 7,000 who have been living in hotels for nearly six months,” he said. “I have personally seen the devastation, the land, I've seen it in their eyes, I've seen the pain in their tears. Every day as the challenges press on, the people of Lahaina -- our own people -- are leaving this island.”

“And so this tragedy that we must all find compassion around and that we must unite around the shared urgency of returning our survivors to their parcels while keeping everyone safe and allowing them to start the long road of rebuilding their lives,” Mayor Bissen added. “This is and will remain my primary focus moving forward until every survivor has found their way home.”

Also, Mayor Bissen during the meeting highlighted the colossal challenge of debris removal, in which 400,000 cubic yards of debris -- nearly five football fields filled 50 feet high, or five stories high – must be transported from Lahaina. An anticipated 133 semi-truck loads daily over 300 days would be required.

Council will vote on second and final reading Jan. 12, 2024.

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