Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
A car hurries past a treacherous segment of Kamehameha Highway in
Punaluu yesterday, where high waves were surging across the roadway.
Longtime residents of the shoreline stretch between Kaaawa
and Hauula say it's the worst they've seen.

Wild waves take toll
across the state

A high-surf advisory remains in effect for
all north-facing beachfront areas

By Gregg K. Kakesako and Jim Witty

Huge waves have been taking a toll across the state, destroying several homes and causing other havoc as oceanfront residents brace against the ocean's fury.

A high-surf advisory remained in effect today for all north-facing shores.

Surf was reported from 12 to 15 feet on Oahu's North Shore and was expected to continue through tonight, weather forecasters said.

On Kauai, one beachfront home in Haena was destroyed and washed away by high surf late yesterday afternoon and another was damaged. Tourists were advised to leave several vacation homes in the area.

Meanwhile, Hanalei Bridge on Kauai's north coast was closed today, while Oahu civil defense authorities prepared for possible flooding from another storm.

To add to local civil defense worries, the islands earlier this morning faced the possibility of a tsunami generated by an earthquake in Peru this morning. The 7:01 a.m. alert was later canceled.

Sonny Gerardo, Kauai Civil Defense administrator, said flooding caused the closure of both Hanalei Road and Hanalei School at 7:45 a.m. and the island was placed under a flash flood warning.

Kauai officials also were watching the areas of Anahola and Hanapepe for possible flooding.

On Oahu, civil defense workers were warned of the possibility that the storm front could blow into the island later today, bringing more rain and flooding.

Oahu's weather today was expected to be mostly cloudy with the possibility of heavy showers and thundershowers. A cold front moving in from the west is responsible for the high winds and rain over Oahu and Kauai.

Oahu Civil Defense Agency spokesman Paul Takamiya said this morning's extremely high tide and storm wave action along Kamehameha Highway on the Windward side between Hauula and Kaaawa dumped more debris on the road.

"However, there was no report of any property damage this morning," Takamiya said.

On Sunday, a Lanikai resident lost part of a seawall and his living room was damaged. His neighbor lost a wooden deck. And storm surf yesterday hurled rocks, sand and flotsam onto Kamehameha Highway from Sunset Beach to Kaaawa.

On the Big Island, 27 people, most from the King's Landing and Radio Bay homeless encampments, were being sheltered at the Puueo Community Center last night after being evacuated.

And a home in Keaukaha near the entrance to King's Landing was destroyed Sunday by the surge.

On Maui, beaches were closed due to 10-foot surf and civil defense officials warned motorists to exercise caution along Kahului Beach Road and Lower Honoapiilani Road near Kahana because of debris on roadways.

Along Oahu's windward and North Shore oceanfront, residents have been keeping vigil with the waves, wary of a high tide could bring more trouble.

"I heard this roar from out on the reef," said Bill Stimmell, who lives near the beach on Mokulua Place in Lanikai.

"Huge surf. This is the worst I've seen it in my five years here."

Joe Nicolai, who owns the new home that Stimmell designed and lives in, was also sobered by the ocean's fury during the last few days."It picked up 200-pound blocks and threw them around like they were confetti," he said. "It was like explosion after explosion. You can't believe the power of the water."

On the Big Island, towering waves forced the continued closure of Kalanianaole Avenue and Bayfront in Hilo as well as all beach parks in the Kohala, Hamakua and Hilo districts. "I've never seen surf this high in Hilo," said Big Island Civil Defense chief Harry Kim. "The only thing comparable would be the 1960 tsunami."

Oahu Civil Defense director Joe Reed said the surf "ate right up to the road surface in a couple of spots" along the highway in Kaaawa and Hauula.

"This is pretty significant stuff," said longtime Punaluu resident Creighton Mattoon. "This looks like a pretty bad one this time."

Although beaches on the North Shore and Hanauma Bay were closed yesterday due to hazardous conditions, a jet ski operator rescued a surfer who nearly drowned at Haleiwa in 15- to 18-foot surf.

Lifeguards also plucked about a dozen people from the water at Sandy Beach yesterday. The surf was forecast to become more "manageable" by this afternoon.

Reed advised motorists to avoid ill-lighted stretches of Kamehameha Highway on the Windward side, where the combination of high surf and high tide could kill."If you're (driving) along at about 25 or 30 miles per hour at night and you come upon a dark spot and debris on the road, you're in before you see it," Reed said.

Star-Bulletin reporters Gary Kubota, Joan Conrow and Debra Barayuga
and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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