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Friday, November 3, 2000

By Rod Thompson, Star-Bulletin
A road crew makes repairs and cleans up after
yesterday's flooding in Hilo.

Big Isle seeks
disaster aid

Mayor says the damage from
the record-breaking deluge and
flooding is substantial

Tales of danger and the 'flood idiots'

By Rod Thompson and Gordon Y. K. Pang

HILO -- Big Island Mayor Stephen Yamashiro said today he will ask Gov. Ben Cayetano to declare East Hawaii a disaster area eligible for emergency assistance because of severe flooding.

The mayor met with disaster officials this morning. After the meeting he said he doesn't have even a rough estimate on the damage but "it's substantial."

The mayor said he hoped to get a better idea of the damage later today.

All over the Big Island, people were cleaning up after the record-setting rain that flooded homes and businesses.

As she mopped up at her downtown Hilo business, Leslie Miki, owner of Abundant Life Natural Food Store, estimated that her losses may be $100,000.

Handmade cabinets got wet. "As we speak, the boards are warping." She said her losses should be covered by insurance.

Big Isle man killed as truck overturns

Star-Bulletin staff

OOKALA, Hawaii -- A Big Island man was killed when his pickup truck struck an embankment and overturned on the Hawaii Belt Road at Ookala on the Hamakua Coast yesterday, police said.

He was identified as Avelino Quevedo, 57, of Papaikou. He was not wearing a seat belt.

At the time of the accident, shortly before 10 a.m., heavy rain was falling, but police did not link his death to storm conditions. An autopsy has been ordered and an investigation is continuing.

SPILLED SEWAGE: The flooding caused sewage spills at eight sites in and around Hilo, the Hawaii County Wastewater Division said.

With rain continuing to pour down into the afternoon, authorities found there was not much they could do right away.

Division chief Peter Boucher said warning signs were posted, water monitoring for pollution was started, and workers waited for the flooding to end.

Boucher gave no indication how much of a health hazard the spills posed.

Yamashiro spokeswoman Marcia Reynolds said the Red Cross will set up a disaster assistance center tomorrow in the lobby of the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo to assist people with housing, clothing and cleaning materials as needed.

All Big Island schools reopened today with the exception of three in Kau: Pahala Elementary, Kau High and Naalehu Elementary.

The county Parks and Recreation Department said all Hilo beach parks from Honolii to Richardson's would remain closed because of sewage discharge.

As of 10:30 a.m., there were six major road closures: Highway 11 between Naalehu Elementary School and the 32-mile marker in Volcano; Kamehameha Avenue between Manono and Mamo streets; Komohana Street between Kukuau and Ponohawai streets; the intersection of Kawailani and Kikaha streets; the intersection of Haihai and Koele streets, and Kupulau Road between Haihai and Ainaloa streets.

In Kona yesterday, rain and wind caused a 120-foot-tall tree to fall on the roof of Alii Sunset Plaza at 10:25 a.m. Damage to four businesses there was estimated at $715,000.

Mike Andrade, acting fire captain of the Kailua station, said the plaza's sprinkler line was severed by the tree, causing considerable water damage at Lava Java, Piece of the Apple Deli, Fare Tahiti Fabrics and Total Image Salon.

No injuries were reported.

On Maui, thunderstorms caused flooding in parts the island yesterday.

The rain forced the closure of public schools and closed several roads in the southern and eastern ends of the Valley Isle.

The roads were reopened after the rain subsided yesterday afternoon.

But some shorelines, including Makena Bay, were left looking like muddy rivers.

"You've got to see this bay. It's total mud," said Makena resident Rudy Luuwai. "It's terrible."

Hana in East Maui had 10.26 inches of rain in the 24-hour period ending at1:30 p.m. yesterday.

Big Island mayoral candidate and former Civil Defense Director Harry Kim said the storm was the worst he had seen "in 20-plus years."

Kim was one of hundreds of people at Wal-Mart, one of the few businesses open in Hilo after the deluge. He said his home in Sunrise Estates received no damage.

"This is the heaviest rain I've seen in a long time. All I can say is, 'Wow.' "

The weather system that caused it all produced a record 24-hour rainfall of up to 3 feet in some areas of the Big Island.

Bob Farrell, lead forecaster of the National Weather Service, said 27.83 inches of rain fell over a 24-hour period in Hilo from 11 a.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. yesterday.

Kapapala Ranch on the Big Island received 36.99 inches in a 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. yesterday, rising close to the statewide record of 38 inches in Kilauea, Kauai, on Jan. 24-25, 1956.

Reporters Gary T. Kubota, Cynthia Oi and
Pat Omandam contributed to this report.

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