- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Coffee farmers grappling with flood damage are asking how the water can be managed without diverting the problem to neighbors.

Rain pouring up to three inches an hour on Thursday left Kainaliu coffee farmers with chunks of stripped and unusable land as well as uprooted trees and muddied pastures, West Hawaii Today reported (http://bit.ly/1JzQ5nI).

Residents are asking Hawaii County to map out a comprehensive flood control plan. They want officials to evaluate how runoff is handled and whether neighbors’ flood mitigation efforts made things worse by altering waterways.

As water exited a neighbor’s property it went barreling into Shawna Gunnarson’s farm.

“It was like a freight train,” she said. “Terrifying.”

On Saturday, Gunnarson estimated the flooding cost her at least $20,000. She says she brought a county engineer to look at her farm, asking him if he could help the community develop a plan to manage the water.

“Because someone is going to get seriously hurt,” she said. “You can point fingers all you want, but we need a plan.”

Individualized efforts like building a stone wall to keep flooding out of a garage or trenching a known flow to one side of an orchard make water flows unpredictable and flood planning impossible.

“I been trying to tell people not to go after each other,” said Gene Yap, a resident of the area for 43 years. “Because everyone is trying to divert the water away from their own place. You can’t blame them. But where does it go? Your neighbor’s place. A lot of people here are blaming the neighbor up above.”

It is not clear how or if county officials will address the problem.

“There needs to be some accountability,” Yap said. “We know there’s a problem. Why isn’t anything being done?”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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