HONOLULU (KHON2) — The close call in Palolo has elevated concerns over more boulders crashing down from the hillside. The property owner is calling on the state and the city to help before tragedy strikes.
Prometheus Construction, which specializes in rockfall mitigation, used a drone to find where the boulder that plowed through the house in Palolo came from. And determined that a cluster of boulders is now even more unstable.
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“Because a lot of times they’re a little bit like a house of cards. And you remove one, they’re all supporting each other, so all of a sudden now, these other boulders are going hey, ‘Where is my buddy that’s been supporting me all this time?'” said Cliff Tillotson, vice president at Prometheus Construction.
Tillotson said it’s highly likely that more boulders have come loose from the hillside, meaning any one of them could come down at any time.
The owner of the property is developer Peter Savio, and he said he’s willing to do what needs to be done. But the state and the city need to pitch in and help him and other owners of hillside properties.
“The guys who own the ridge we can’t get insurance because no one wants to insure. The ridges have no value, so you can’t afford to do what needs to be done,” said Savio.
He said the Palolo incident should be a wake-up call. He added that the city and state approved building the homes below the cliffsides. So he said they must take some responsibility.
“What the city needs to do is to fund a program where they either offer financing to help pay the cost and require the proper fencing to be built. Not just in Palolo but every single valley where we have this happen,” said Savio.
Tillotson said ideally, the owners of the hillside property come to an agreement, which has happened in the past.
“So half of the property was owned by one group and the other half was owned by another. So they shared the cost while all the people in these condominiums down below were evacuated,” said Tillotson.
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The state’s Hawaii Emergency Management Agency can step in but usually only as a last resort if property owners can’t come to an agreement. As for the Palolo incident, the city said it is still evaluating the situation.