Downed utility pole left some North Shore residents trapped for over 12 hours

Local News

Hundreds of North Shore residents felt trapped today after the only road out of their neighborhood was blocked off for hours because of a downed utility pole. 

Around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, a car crashed into a utility pole on Pupukea Road. The car then fell into a ditch.

Honolulu Police say they believe the driver was speeding at the time.

Emergency Medical Services said the driver and passenger are both in their 20s and were taken to the hospital in serious condition.

But it’s not the first time this road has been blocked off, and with hurricane season here, being stuck with nowhere to go was a sneak peek of a grim reality.

Pupukea Road was closed for over 12 hours while crews replaced the pole and power lines. 

Once police blocked off the road, some residents had to turn around and sleep in their cars overnight. 

By morning, many residents parked their cars near the top of the hill and walked down the windy road. 

On top of that, some were without power for hours.

Many residents asked about the military roads located nearby in the case of an emergency. 

Rep. Sean Quinlan (D) Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Kaaawa – reached out to the military and found out there are two roads one from Kahuku the other from Schofield.  

“Currently the section from Pupukea to Kahuku has been washed out in multiple areas and is not even passable by military traffic,” Rep. Quinlan said. 

“The other way out, from Pupukea to Schofield Barracks, unfortunately, it’s a very difficult road approximately three miles of it is not paved. There are four stream crossings, steep grades, and blind turns so it’s not passable by civilian traffic at this time it’s really a safety issue,” he said.  

He said the military has access to those areas because they have easements and that the roads run through five different property landowners. 

“In order for the state to use it for civilian traffic, we would also have to get easements from those landowners,” Quinlan said.

“The state would have to bring those roads to Department of Transportation standards,” he said. 
Although what happened wasn’t a natural disaster, emergency officials say it’s because of incidents like this that we should always be prepared. 

“You might have to be evacuated from your home due to a fire, or a large brush fire or any number of reasons so the 14 day of supplies and 14 days of planning works for any situation that might be for an emergency,” said John Cummings III, City and County of Honolulu PIO for the Department of Emergency Management. 

One Pupukea resident recalled a downed tree last year and how she was unable to pick up her son from school and had no way to contact him. 

“In the 30 years I’ve been doing this work, the thing that impacts folks the most is not knowing where their family is after a disaster, it’s a horrible feeling,” Cummings III said. 

He said having someone on the mainland as a point of contact is important for family communication in the event power and phone lines are down for a long period of time. 

And if power lines and phone lines are down for a long time, once they come back up to text not call.   

“Texting is very robust and it will push through when the system is either down or partially working,” he said.

It’s also good to have a full water bottle in your car, extra phone chargers, and a blanket or beach towel just in case. 

And while no one could have predicted being stranded on Monday, it’s good to have a plan ahead of time.

“Blue skies is the time to think about how you’re going to manage these types of events,” Cummings III said. 

And Rep. Quinlan urges residents to meet their neighbors. 

“Talk to your neighbors because in an emergency they’re the ones you’re going to have to turn to so get with your immediate neighbors make sure you all have a plan together and you know what supplies your neighbors have so you can share if the time comes,” he said. 
 

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