GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
A security guard kept watch as a crew began pumping out Kahala Mall, flooded by heavy rains yesterday.
Kahala Mall, theaters closed by torrent of water
Moviegoers were evacuated from Kahala 8 Theatres yesterday after a torrent of water overflowed from a nearby street and created swamps inside.
Mud and leaves covered theater seats, which poked through the surface of the chocolate-brown water.
About 90 businesses on Kahala Mall's ground level were evacuated and shut down as water and mud swept through from the Ewa end of the mall to the other, stopping just short of California Pizza Kitchen, said Ron Yoda, Kahala Mall general manager.
Most of the mall will remain closed for the next few days while cleanup takes place, but some stores, including Macy's, will reopen this morning. Star Market and Longs Drug Store reopened shortly after the flooding. Other businesses such as Barnes & Noble on the upper floor and Chili's, which is located in the parking lot, were not affected.
Mall management and tenants removed water to prevent further damage, running wet-vacs and pumps and using brooms and anything available to remove the brown water.
Theatres 6, 7 and 8 sustained the most damage. Yoda said he was not sure about the condition of the others.
Maluhia Paleafei and her 5-year-old son had just sat down for about eight minutes to catch the 12:35 p.m. showing of the opening of "Ice Age 2."
"A woman with her children were yelling, 'Guys, you better get out. Water is coming! You better hurry, the water's rising.'"
Paleafei said several teens and children began running out, but she remained calm and her son just whined, "I wanted to see 'Ice Age.'"
"We're so fortunate to get out when we did," Paleafei said.
Events scheduled for the weekend at the mall were canceled.
Storm drains overflowed on Hunakai Street, which runs along the Ewa end of the mall, with water going down a steep stairway and into an exit door near the screen in Theatre 6. Water then broke through the wall between the theaters and gushed into Theatres 7 and 8.
"Water was coming down so fast, Hunakai was like a river," said Yoda. "It was too much volume for the storm drains to handle."
John DeMarco, Jamba Juice director of operations in Hawaii, was at Kahala Mall when the water came through the walls at the Jamba Juice store. "Water found the lowest point ... and flowed like a river for about an hour" through the store and into the Starbucks next door, he said.
The store's wood floors, walls and baseboards were damaged and will likely have to be replaced, he said. "We feel lucky," he said with a smile. "This is nothing compared to New Orleans."