Rain floods Kauai valley


POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seventeen people were evacuated via inflatable boat as the Hanalei River flooded yesterday, Kauai officials said.

The storm dropped as much as 17 inches of rain over 24 hours on Hanalei. Flooding forced the closure of the Hanalei Bridge and Kuhio Highway at the Kalihiwai Bridge.

Mark Marshall, emergency management officer of the Kauai Civil Defense, said floodwaters damaged at least three homes and were “;washing cars around.”;

The county and the Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center to assist residents.

Three people used the shelter until floodwaters subsided in the early evening, Marshall said.

For about three and a half hours starting at 11:45 a.m., Hanalei Poi owner Bino Fitzgerald used his 13-foot inflatable boat to help firefighters evacuate 17 residents and farm workers out of the valley.

They were taken to the Hanalei Fire Station, where they were picked up by friends and family, firefighters said.

But the north shore wasn't the only area affected by heavy rain. County officials said several roads in the Kawaihau District mauka of Kapaa were closed because of heavy debris and flooding.

Kauai officials planned to start damage assessment today.

The National Weather Service kept a flash-flood watch in effect through late last night for all islands and continued a high-surf advisory for all east-facing shores to 6 a.m. tomorrow.

But forecasters are predicting skies will begin to clear today as our normal tradewinds return.