Hundreds of storm-affected residents waited in line for drinking water and ice at Pahoa High School on Saturday as they sought relief from the effects of Tropical Storm Iselle.
The fresh supplies began to be distributed at 4 p.m. to two cars at a time. The line at that time was already stretching down Kaohe Homestead Road and back to Pahoa Village Road.
Two hours later, Bill Hansen, county Civil Defense administrative officer, estimated between 500 and 600 cars had passed through, with many more still waiting.
Each vehicle received a bag of ice and several large bottles of water, perhaps enough to get them through another day or two without power or running water.
With seven kids to take care of, Lisa Nunes said she would have to return today.
“We’re just basically living off our canned food,” Nunes said.
Available were 1,050 cases of bottled water from Hawaiian Springs, with 12,000 large bottles in total, and a truckload of ice from Big Island Ice Co.
Hansen said about 450 tarps were available for those who needed them.
The relief effort began Friday, and was initially located at the Pahoa Fire Station.
Darryl Oliveira, Civil Defense administrator, said long lines caused a backup on Highway 130, which prompted its relocation to the high school following the first run Saturday morning.
So far, the county has had to resupply the distribution point twice a day to keep up with the need, he said.
“We’ve been having to open up the depot with what we have and play catchup throughout the day,” Oliveira said.
The county put in a request for assistance with the state for more ice, though water wasn’t expected to run out, he said.
“We got a whole logistics table here, with 5 to 6 people constantly on the phone …,” Oliveira said.
Another round of supplies is expected to be available at 9 a.m. today at the high school.
Hansen said he expects the county to continue making deliveries as long as the power remained out and supplies held.
Keoni Jones, Big Island Ice owner, said his company can produce 30 tons of ice in a day.
His wife, Stacey Jones, said they were playing catchup as well with their customers but planned to continue to offer their assistance to the county.
“Whatever we make tomorrow will get sold or donated,” she said.
Dan Spence, plant manager for Hawaiian Springs, said the company sold 20,000 cases of bottled water last week as residents stocked up before the storm. His facility is also facing power problems, but he was expecting to be able to maintain production.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.