MORE WINDWARD RAIN
/ SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Hauula Homestead Road resident Andrew Chase, left, and friends and family tried to divert raging waters coming down from the mountains yesterday to protect his home.
Rain floods homes, forces evacuations
At least five houses in Hauula are deluged; a flash-flood watch is in effect for three islands
Nearly a foot of muddy rainwater rushed down Hauula Homestead Road and into at least five homes last night as heavy showers stalled over parts of Windward Oahu still recovering from last week's flooding.
Also, six families evacuated at about 9:30 last night from homes behind Cackle Fresh Egg Farm in Laie after a nearby canal overflowed, officials said. They were expected to be put up in a nearby shelter.
The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning last night for Oahu, which was extended to 11:45 p.m.
Nearly stationary, heavy showers were situated over Hauula and Kahaluu. Bridges in Hauula and Punaluu were nearly topped.
"It doesn't look good," weather service forecaster Norman Hui said last night. "If the cell just anchors there, we might see something like last week."
A flash-flood watch was also issued and is in effect for all of Oahu, Kauai and Niihau through tonight.
The heavy rains in Hauula started at about 4 p.m. and spurred a flash flood around 5:30 last night when Maakua Stream jumped its banks and flowed down the roadway, leaving residents scrambling to protect their homes.
At least five homes sustained flooding damage, said Oahu Civil Defense spokesman John Cummings. Yard flooding was also reported on nearby Waikulama Road.
The rain was tapering off at around 8 p.m., but officials were planning to open a shelter if the heavy showers returned.
"It started like a little stream in front of the house about 5 or 5:30 p.m.," said Andrew Chase, who has lived with his wife at 54-261 Hauula Homestead Road for a decade.
Within minutes, he said, the little stream turned into a river.
Residents along the roadway used sandbags, plywood and concrete blocks to protect their homes. Elton Kaahu parked his pickup truck in the water's path and used a sheet of plywood and 100 sandbags to assemble a makeshift dam.
"If I don't leave them (the truck and sandbags) like this, I would be flooded -- water would be in my house 2 feet deep," said Kaahu, who has lived in Hauula for 20 years.
Residents on Hauula Homestead Road said they have seen flooding before, but several said it had never been as bad as what happened last night. Some blamed the diversion of Maakua Stream many years ago for the problems, while others said the stream bed was not properly maintained.
It was not immediately clear whether the city is responsible for the stream's maintenance. City crews responded to the flooding yesterday and put out concrete barriers along the stream's banks to keep it from overflowing.
Elsewhere in Windward Oahu, Civil Defense volunteers were monitoring fast-flowing streams from Kualoa to Kahuku last night to report on potential flooding. Others were on call to respond to road closures or other problems, Cummings said.
Weather service forecaster Henry Lau said heavy showers are expected to continue islandwide through tomorrow morning, and rain is in the forecast through the weekend.
Windward Oahu is expected to see the most rain today.
But the showers are expected to pass over quickly rather than remain stationary. Even that sort of rain, Lau said, could spur flash flooding in parts of Windward Oahu.
"We're very concerned," he said, adding that the heavy showers last week that destroyed four homes and dropped up to 22 inches in 48 hours have left the ground wet.
"Some locally heavy showers are possible. Conditions are favorable for flooding."
Lau said the rains are being caused by a low-pressure system west of the islands, which is interacting with moist, unstable air.
Windward Oahu residents can get free sandbags today and tomorrow at Kualoa Ranch and the Ohana Family of the Living God Church, at 54-058 Hauula Homestead Road.
The donated sandbags will be offered at a first-come, first-served basis from 2 to 6:30 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow, a City Council news release said.
Meanwhile, officials are still tallying the damage from last week's rains. State Civil Defense officials have asked residents who sustained flooding to their homes or businesses to call Aloha United Way's 211 information line.
Also, state Civil Defense will set up a disaster recovery center for flood victims from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday at Kualoa Ranch. Residents will get free help on applying for aid.
To report flooding damage, call the Aloha United Way's information line at 211. Residents will be asked for their names, phone numbers and a description of the damage to their homes. The information will be passed on to state Civil Defense.
Damage can also be reported to the American Red Cross. To speak to a representative, call 739-8113.