FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Manoa resident Ann Kushiyama sorted through her belongings yesterday piled in a bedroom. One year after a flood through her neighborhood, most of her belongings remain in boxes, with her clothes sorted on tables.
Soaked with worry
Physical and emotional effects of last October's disaster still linger
MANOA FLOOD: ONE YEAR LATER
» UH-Manoa professors are uspet at the slow pace of recovery
The women are anxious, taking in their breath as they listen to rain droplets pounding on rooftops and jalousie windows.
On a recent evening, they sit around a table to share photos and stories of the flood that swept through their Manoa homes one year ago today. All the while, as with every heavy shower, they worry about the possibility of muddy water topping the banks of Manoa stream again and washing into their neighborhood, where they have lived for decades, raised their children and planned for retirement.
"Every time it rains, we're out there looking," said Ann Kushiyama, who lives on Pamoa Road. "I know it's going to happen again."
The flood, caused by a combination of unusually heavy rains and clogged stream beds, came without notice on Halloween eve.
Kushiyama was eating dinner with her family about 7:30 p.m. when she noticed water lapping at the steps to her front door. Within minutes, water was coming through the floorboards of her home, which has a foot-high crawl-space.
In the garage, her car was filling with water.
STAR-BULLETIN / NOVEMBER 2004
These three cars were tangled among the debris from the Manoa flood last Ocotber near Manoa Marketplace.
State Civil Defense officials estimate the flood caused an estimated $80 million in damage to Manoa. At least two homes were jarred from their foundations. Families had to get rid of everything from furniture to clothes to heirlooms. No lives were lost, but many were disrupted. And 12 months later, many are still cleaning up.
"We just had to gut the house," said Joan Izumoto, who lives a few doors down from Kushiyama. "We're still kind of numb."
Just last week, Izumoto was able to put in new flooring. More than a foot of water washed into her home in the flood, leaving behind an inch-thick layer of mud. Lost, too, in the waters were cabinets, appliances, two cars, furniture and a backyard shed, which slipped from its concrete slab under the flood's force.
In all, Izumoto and her husband spent more than $80,000 repairing and restoring their home. They also invested in flood insurance.
So did Kushiyama, who was forced to dip into her retirement savings to cover the more than $13,000 in damage to her home.
And she still has much more work to do. Right now, she can't even buy new dressers and cabinets to replace those lost in the floodwaters. Most of her belongings are still in boxes, and her clothes are sorted on tables.
STAR-BULLETIN / OCTOBER 2004
Bryce Minato walked through the wreckage in the back yard of his grandmother-in-law Elaine Shigemoto's home, which was damaged by the flood. The home is on Pamoa Road.
When she tells that to her neighbors as they sit around chatting, they laugh and nod knowingly. Their homes, they say, are no less haphazardly decorated. One has plastic chairs around her expensive dining room table. A second got new carpeting but could not afford a sofa. She sits on the floor to watch TV, she says, giggling.
Carol Shoji, who lives on the banks of Manoa Stream, was able to get her home livable in about two months.
Her family's lifestyle, meanwhile, has changed, perhaps permanently.
When it rains hard, her two boys, ages 10 and 13, sit at their bedroom windows and watch Manoa Stream like sentinels. If the showers go into the night, Shoji will likely stay up to reassure them and act at the first signs of a flood.
"We're a little bit more cautious when we see heavy rains," Shoji said, "because there's no guarantee that it's not going to flood over again."
She is most worried about how her kids are faring. After the flood, her youngest was frightened whenever it rained. He was shocked to tears when he saw the flood's destruction at Noelani Elementary, where he now attends sixth grade.
"It was really scary for them," she said, adding that her and her neighbors are also concerned about whether city, state and federal authorities are doing enough for flood mitigation.
Earlier this month, state Civil Defense Director Ed Teixeira announced he was expecting about $3 million in federal funds for flood control projects in Manoa. The state and city also maintain the stream more regularly, clearing out logs and other debris before heavy showers are expected.
Part of the problem, residents say, is other people dumping things into the stream.
Shoji found cut logs in her red ginger plants after the flood. Izumoto had large cut bamboo pieces in her driveway.
"To me, as long as it's maintained and periodically checked, I think it will be OK," Shoji said. "Sometimes, it can't be helped. If a tree falls, there's not much of anything anyone can do."