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Long recovery ahead for Molokaʻi after recent storm

Sophia McCullough

Kauaʻi and Molokaʻi schools reopened Tuesday after closing due to severe storms over the weekend. Maui County endured the brunt of the system, getting more than 15 inches of rain in some areas, and the Friendly Isle experienced record flooding.

University of Hawaiʻi agricultural researcher Glenn Teves has a family farm in Hoʻolehua on Molokaʻi. Teves said he was able to weather the storm better than others.

"There's a lot of things happening. It's not just the people, you got all the plants and the organisms and the animals and a lot of upheaval going on right now. You know, we really don't know what's happening on the East End. You don't want to go drive down there and complicate matters. People are just trying to get home," he told The Conversation. "I'm really surprised that a state of emergency hasn't been declared for Molokaʻi at the least."

Teves said Hawaiʻi has one of the highest erosion rates in the country, with flooding and runoff accelerating the problem for local farmers.

When weather or other events prevent barges from docking, Molokaʻi is not able to receive its twice-weekly food supply. A barge arrived before the storm, but Teves said 11 to 12 barges a year are canceled.

"One barge a month is canceled and from that barge, you'll see a shortage of food on the island. So this idea of food security is hitting home," Teves said.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 31, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Lillian Tsang is the senior producer of The Conversation. She has been part of the talk show team since it first aired in 2011. Contact her at ltsang@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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