Rain moves on to soak Kauai
On the Big Island, crews estimate 100 to 150 homes were damaged in floods
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A statewide flash flood watch remains in effect this morning after heavy rain soaked Kauai yesterday. Flooding was made worse along the Hanapepe River when a shipping container floated downstream and lodged against a bridge. There was a report of at least one house underwater.
On the Big Island, meanwhile, Mayor Harry Kim estimated damage from Saturday's deluge at $30 million and said 100 to 150 homes were damaged.
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A day after heavy rain hit the Big Island, Kauai residents took the brunt of the rainfall yesterday as floodwaters engulfed one home and forced road closures as a cargo container broke free into the Hanapepe River. The National Weather Service said heavy rain could hit Oahu today, and issued a flash flood watch for the state until 6 p.m.
The heaviest rainfall on Kauai yesterday was on Mount Waialeale, which received nearly 11 inches of in 24 hours. Hanalei saw more than 7.5 inches in the same period ending at 5 p.m.
Mark Marshall, administrator of the Kauai Civil Defense Agency, said a 40-foot cargo container broke loose on the west side of Kauai and floated down the Hanapepe River, hitting a county bridge in Hanapepe town before becoming stuck under the Hanapepe Bridge on the state highway.
The National Weather Service said the container was backing up water and causing flooding from Hanapepe to Waimea. Marshall said officials had not determined where the container came from.
On the North Shore, the Wainiha River overflowed its banks, forcing the closure of the Wainiha Bridges, a Kauai County news release said. The bridges along Kuhio Highway are the sole link from Hanalei to Wainiha and Haena. Marshall said there was a report of a house underwater and another under a foot of water in Wainiha.
County officials opened a shelter last night in Kaumakani for three residents evacuated from Hanapepe Valley.
On the Big Island, Mayor Harry Kim credited multimillion-dollar flood control improvements to the Komohana Street Bridge and other projects for preventing major damage in Hilo from Saturday's heavy rain. The rain was the worst since rain in November 2000 caused at least $30 million in damage, he said.
Kim, acting civil defense administrator, estimates 100 to 150 homes were damaged. About 10 to 15 homes, most in the Waiakea Uka area, sustained severe damage from water "as high as 3 or 4 feet," he said.
Highways 11 and 19 reopened yesterday as crews cleared debris and floodwater. But Kamehameha Avenue in Hilo remained closed, and several other county roads were still underwater or being evaluated, Kim said.
"There was a lot of erosion of some roads," he said.
Workers were going door to door yesterday in hard-hit areas to make sure residents were not injured.
The new Komohana Street Bridge and upgrades to Hilo's flood control system were "truly tested" by Saturday's rain, Kim said. "Without it (new flood control measures), I know we would have had some real severe damage downtown," he said.
Kim believes the damage did not meet the threshold for federal disaster funds. He said officials will continue to evaluate the situation today.
In the meantime, the state Health Department's Clean Water Branch is warning people to stay out of brownish coastal waters from Laupahoehoe Point to Leleiwe Beach Park because of contaminated runoff from the rain. Disinfected but untreated waste water from the Hilo treatment plant was released into Puhi Bay Saturday.
On Maui a stretch of Kaupakalua Road in Haiku was closed Saturday due to floodwaters 2 1/2 feet deep, according to the Maui County Web site.