About 200 Gather to Mourn Victims of Kauai Dam Break, State Prepares for More Rain

March 21, 2006

About 200 friends and neighbors hugged and cried at a memorial service on Sunday for those who were washed away when a Kauai, Hawaii, dam burst last week.

Mourners, mostly from Kilauea and other towns on Kauai’s north shore, gathered at the Church of the Pacific to remember the three who have been confirmed dead and four others who are still missing.

Millicent Cummings, of Kilauea, said she organized the informal event so friends could get together as family, hear music, and heal.

“A lot of us are close to the people who passed away. We are all suffering,” she said.

Kauai County, meanwhile, said the third body found after Kaloko dam burst was identified as 24-year-old Aurora Fehring.

Fehring lived with her husband and son in one of the two Kilauea houses swept off their foundations when the reservoir burst without warning on Tuesday and unleashed a torrent of water downstream.

The body of her husband, Alan Dingwall, 30, was found and identified last week. Their two-year-old son Rowan is still missing.

Search and rescue teams have also found 22-year-old Christina McNeese, who was seven months pregnant and due to get married on Saturday.

McNeese’s finance, Daniel Arroyo, 33, is still missing, as is their friend Timothy Noonan.

Wayne Rotstein, the caretaker of the property the two houses were located on, was also unaccounted for.

The State Urban Search and Rescue Team continued scouring the mud and debris on Sunday for the remaining victims, concentrating their efforts on the area where Kilauea Stream joins with Wailapa Stream.

The Kauai Fire Department also helped with the search.

On Monday, engineers from the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are due to begin assessing all reservoirs on the island.

There are 53 dams on Kauai and 133 in Hawaii overall.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration has been besieged with questions over why no one knew the Kaloko Reservoir dam was in danger of bursting.

The governor moved swiftly last week to ask the Legislature for more than $14 million to deal with the dam crisis, including about $8 million to assess and reduce problems with dams throughout the state. She also extended Hawaii’s state of emergency through March 26 to expedite evacuations and disaster relief.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian officials are carefully monitoring high-risk reservoirs for another possible break as forecasters predicted several more days of heavy rain.

A flash flood warning was in effect and state officials said Saturday they were sending further support to Kauai. Forecasters predict the rains will continue to fall through at least Wednesday, Lee said.

Most of the water has been pumped out of the Morita Reservoir, one of 53 on the island, which is now only a foot deep, Lee said.

Four high-risk reservoirs also will be watched by radio-controlled water level monitoring devices capable of beaming information to a satellite, said Peter Young, who heads the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. An additional system will use a laser light to monitor any movement at the dams.

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