HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige said he plans to ask President Barack Obama for federal assistance to help Maui communities clean up and repair areas damaged by flooding through Iao Valley.

The state and Maui County have already issued disaster declarations for last week’s heavy rains, which officials estimate caused at least $15 million in damage to public lands. That number could rise as officials continue to assess the area.

Ige toured the damage Thursday and promised to request a presidential disaster declaration for public assistance.

“This truly is a sobering reminder of the power of nature and what happens every 500 years or so,” Ige said during a Thursday news conference held in Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Wailuku office.

Thirty members of the Hawaii Air and Army National Guard have been helping with debris removal. Arakawa said an estimated 9,000 truckloads of debris needed to be removed from Iao Valley.

“This is going to be a large project. Very expensive. It’s going to take months and months to try and secure this area, but it’s going to be worth it,” Arakawa said.

The heavy rains made rivers and streams swell, flooding several homes with mud and debris and causing landslides. The Iao Valley State Monument was heavily damaged and remains closed to the public.