THE KAUAI DAM CRISIS:
CONTINUING RAIN BRINGS
Residents flee more flooding on Kauai
» Up to an inch of rain an hour in some spots forces evacuations on the South Shore
» Rescuers pick through North Shore debris as the search for five flood victims continues
KOLOA, Kauai » Devastating rain, up to an inch an hour in some spots, brought more misery to Kauai yesterday, flooding homes and businesses on the South Shore and closing roads from Hanalei to Kekaha.
Meanwhile, ground search-and-rescue operations were expected to resume this morning on the North Shore, where the Ka Loko Dam above Kilauea burst on Tuesday. Two bodies have been recovered, and five people are still missing from the breach's torrential flood.
The Coast Guard is suspending its air and sea search for flood victims, "pending further information," spokesman Michael De Nyse said.
Here are the top five Kauai rainfall totals for the 24 hours ending at 8 p.m. yesterday:
Kapahi: 6.22 inches
Wailua: 6.16 inches
Omao: 6.14 inches
Kalaheo: 5.83 inches
Lihue: 3.73 inches
Source: National Weather Service
Other dams on Kauai remain under a close watch but appeared to be holding yesterday.
In Kilauea, rescuers have been checking cars still under water or buried in debris in the Kilauea and Wailapa rivers to make sure others were not swept away by the wall of water -- as much as 300 million gallons and estimated at 150 yards wide and 35 feet high -- that rushed to the ocean from the dam.
Police identified one of the two bodies as Alan Dingwall, 30. His body was found Tuesday in the ocean about a half-mile from the mouth of the Kilauea Stream. The body of a woman was found Wednesday afternoon about an eighth of a mile mauka of the mouth of the Kilauea River. She has not been identified.
On the North Shore, police will be stationed along Kuhio Highway 24 hours a day for months, highway officials said, to direct traffic along the stretch of road damaged by Tuesday's dam breach. Only one lane could be reopened due to erosion on the shoulders of the road.
On the South Shore, dozens of Kauai homes and two Koloa businesses, Crazy Shirts and Koloa Natural Foods, were evacuated as Waikomo Stream flowed over its banks and into the small South Shore neighborhood.
About 13 homes along a ditch leading from Elua Reservoir mauka of Kalaheo also were evacuated by the staff at Alexander & Baldwin Inc., which owns the reservoir, said company spokeswoman Meredith Ching.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Melissa Shaw, right, walked through Aloha Place with belongings from her house, which had begun to flood.
Cedric Ramos used his 20-ton excavator to drive across the overflowing stream to bring out four neighbors on Kapau Road in Koloa.
Instead of asphalt, the street in front of their homes had become a fast-moving river of brown water, effectively trapping them.
A four-wheel-drive Toyota pickup tried to make it across Waikomo Stream, and "he almost lost it," Ramos said. He estimated about a dozen homes were cut off by the high water.
Waikomo Stream began rising about noon, residents said. By 3 p.m. people began leaving their homes. Kathy Thompson, a spokeswoman for Grove Farm Co., said the overflow from Waita Dam rose to about 9 inches over the spillway yesterday from 2 inches over the spillway Wednesday because of heavy rains in the mountains.
Grove Farm also sent out heavy equipment along the stream to clear out debris and keep the water flowing.
Further upstream, homes along Aloha Place and Wailaau Road were flooded by the rising waters.
Melissa Shaw waded through knee-deep water on Aloha Place to bring out some computer and camera equipment from her home.
"Can you canoe?" her neighbor Maria Arakaki shouted from higher ground. "Bring the canoe."
"This is nuts," Shaw said.
Near Poipu, the Kiahuna Plantation Golf Course appeared cut in half by a raging river running through the middle of several fairways.
Waimea was under a voluntary evacuation yesterday because of fears the Waimea River could flood and cut the town off. Also on the west side, heavy rain closed Kekaha School after Aukuu Road, near the school, flooded.
All of the county parks, pavilion and athletic fields are closed until at least Monday because of overflowing cesspools in bathrooms and severely saturated field areas.
A mudslide closed a lane of Kaumualii Highway about five miles south of Lihue, near Halfway Bridge. And eight miles south, the entire highway was closed because of flooding in Kalaheo. In Koloa, Weli Weli Road and Maluhia Road, known as the "tree tunnel," remain closed, while Hoone Road, along the beach in Poipu, was closed because of flooding.
Roads over Kapaa Stream were also closed because of flooding, but no major property damage was reported.
The American Red Cross has opened emergency shelters in Waimea, Kilauea, Kalaheo and Kapaa.
Only one person showed up by late yesterday afternoon at the Kalaheo Neighbor Center shelter.
"Local people will wait (it out) or stay with friends" instead of going to a shelter, said Susan Cox, manager of the neighborhood center.
Tobiah Houston had flown to Kauai to camp and surf on the North Shore but ended up sleeping at a park in Koloa for the last two days. He hitchhiked to the shelter, where he was treated to hot food and a cot in the gym.
As of 7 last night, the Waimea Neighborhood Center had seven people seeking shelter, with two other families en route, said Maria Lutz, disaster operations and response manager for Red Cross-Hawaii State Chapter. At other shelters, the Kilauea Neighborhood Center had four people spending the night, and five people at Kapaa Middle School. None of the people from the South Shore had evacuated to the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, Lutz added.
More pets than people needed shelter last night, according to Dr. Becky Rhodes of the Kauai Humane Society, with about a dozen dogs and cats and even a rabbit spending the night from the south side. About a half-dozen pets from the Kilauea area also were housed there last night, Rhodes said. The humane society sent out teams to rescue pets from flooded areas.
"The key message is, don't leave your pets," Rhodes added. "Whether it's 15 minutes or a day, bring your pets with you."
On the North Shore, Kuhio Highway near Hanalei Bridge closed for about an hour yesterday.
As of yesterday, Morita Reservoir below the Ka Loko Reservoir dropped to 10 feet, about half of its capacity. Massive pumps were scheduled to be flown to Kauai from Hilo on a Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 last night to remove more water from the reservoir.
Edwin Doty, owner of Morita dam, was keeping a close eye on county, state and National Guard workers who continued to drain water out of his back yard. Doty said that the dam had eroded at least 20 feet when water from Ka Loko flooded into it Tuesday morning, snapping tree branches up to 30 feet above the dam and taking out his utility shed and ride-on lawnmower.
Kilauea and the rest of the North Shore were recovering yesterday, but many residents said the community was still sad about the loss of their neighbors.
Kilauea was "a ghost town Wednesday" before the highway reopened, said Coriena MacNeil, owner of the Kilauea Fish Market, next to the Healthy Hut where Christina McNeese, one of the missing, worked.
"People are just sad, really sad," MacNeil said. McNeese, who was seven months pregnant, "was just a super-positive person, a sparkly girl."
"She was in here just a few days ago," MacNeil added. "She was psyched about the wedding."
The other people listed as missing in the flood are Dingwall's wife, Aurora Fehring; their 2-year-old son, Rowan Fehring-Dingwall; McNeese's fiance, Daniel Arroyo; Timothy Noonan; and Wayne Rotstein.
Jenny Sheehan said that everywhere in town, the mood was the same: "There's just a deep sadness and the weather dampens things."
Hawaii Army National Guard Sgt. Fred Custicimo spent yesterday in the heavy rain watching for signs that the Morita dam could fail. He got back from Iraq in January and had just returned to work as an auto parts salesman when he was called up again because of the flooding.
"Whenever they need us, we go," Custicimo said. "It beats being over there."
Star-Bulletin reporters Mary Vorsino and Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.