A rescue team from the Honolulu Fire Department redirected hikers trying to cross a swollen stream yesterday along the Maunawili Falls Trail.

Nonstop rain
soaks isles

Heavy downpours cause
rockslides and flooding on
several roads and down
power lines on Oahu

Heavy rains caused chaos across Oahu yesterday, closing roads and small airports, flooding homes and causing downed power lines.

State Civil Defense officials issued a flash flood watch, which is still in effect for Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Oahu, for the next couple of days.

Fog and rain on Lanai were so bad it forced state Department of Transportation officials to close Lanai Airport.

"People in the control tower said they can't even see the runway at this point," said transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

The bad weather also forced the relocation of today's Jack Johnson concert from Kualoa Ranch to the Neal Blaisdell Center. By last count, 7,500 tickets had been sold for the concert, which is a fund-raiser for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes recycling and other environmental causes.

State and county roads also suffered from the heavy rain. As of 4:30 p.m., Oahu Civil Defense volunteers were helping direct traffic after several roads were closed in Windward Oahu and the Leeward Coast. By nightfall, Farrington Highway near Nanakuli was closed, while there was 6 inches of water covering Kamehameha Highway near Waikane.

Kapaa Quarry Road and Old Kalanianaole Highway were closed because of rockslides and accidents. A portion of the right lane going town-bound on Pali Highway just after Castle Junction also was closed because of a small mudslide.

Kalanianaole Highway between Kealahou and Sea Life Park was closed due to flooding, and Keeaumoku Street between King and Liona streets was closed because of a downed power pole about 8:30 p.m., police said.

Civil Defense crews also helped open the sandbars at Nanakuli and Makaha streams.

Officials will re-examine conditions on Diamond Head Road after a rockslide closed the route yesterday.

In the meantime, rockslides were reported at Numana Road in Kalihi and Diamond Head Road.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the state Department of Land & Natural Resources will have to decide if a rock hanging over Diamond Head Road warrants the closure of the road until it can be removed.

Department of Land & Natural Resources spokeswoman Deborah Ward said engineers were still out at the scene late yesterday afternoon.

There were also numerous car accidents, including a report of an overturned car near Hanauma Bay about 5 p.m.

Overflow from the sewer system also was a problem. As of 8:30 p.m., city officials said the overflow was so bad that treated and raw sewage at the Waimanalo Wastewater Treatment Plant backed up and overflowed through manhole covers in several locations. They included a 3,600-gallon spill into Waolani Stream, which feeds into Nuuanu Stream, as well as another spill into Kalihi Stream near Lehua Street and Palanene Place.

An overflow problem at the waste-water facility also discharged into a drainage ditch, then into Pahua Stream. City and county officials said an estimate of the spill will be released at a later date.

Four stranded hikers on the Maunawili Falls Trail managed to escape on their own. Hikers Jonny White, right, and Lisa Siemer, both from Indiana, emerged safely as streams swelled from the rains.

Hawaiian Electric Co. officials also said they were plagued all day by heavy rains that caused tree branches to fall on power lines. Along Maunawili Road a downed power line and a large tree branch prevented anyone from coming or going, leaving some residents stranded.

"Are the roads clear yet?" asked Louis Ecker, a Maunawili Falls hiker who waited in his car for hours as city and county crews cleared the tree branch.

Though the Maunawili incident did not cause anyone to lose power, there were those who did. About 1,500 Makakilo customers were without power for about two hours yesterday morning while transformer equipment was replaced, said HECO spokesman Jose Dizon.

Another 1,500 people in Waimanalo Beach housing were left without electricity for an hour because a tree fell on a power line. In Pearl City about 800 customers lost power for an hour.

The Honolulu Fire Department was so busy responding to the various emergencies last night that for a time more than 30 percent of the department was out on calls. Some of the problems included about eight families cut off by a stream that became a river inside Waianae Valley.

Two homes also were gutted by fire during yesterday's deluge: one on Kaneohe Bay Drive, which caused an estimated $280,000 to the house and contents, and another in Aiea, which caused $170,000 in damage.

"Those homes burned from the inside out," said HFD spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada. "Everything but the roof burned."

Water rushed from the yard of a house in Palolo.

Weather forecasters for the National Weather Service said between Thursday and yesterday, the rainfall amount on Oahu practically doubled islandwide.

"We've had some heavy rainfalls earlier this week, but they were more localized," said weather service lead forecaster Robert Ballard. "This time, everybody is getting some steady rain."

Ballard said the average rainfall amount on Oahu was between 1 and 2 inches on Thursday. Yesterday by 9 p.m., the 24-hour rainfall average was between 3 and 6 inches.

One emergency call for four stranded hikers ended with the hikers making it off Maunawili Falls Trail on their own. Fire and rescue crews spent several hours recrossing raging Maunawili Stream, searching for the two couples from Indiana.

The hikers emerged near Pali Highway and were waiting in their car for the downed tree to be cleared.

"We were supposed to spend the day diving, but the conditions were bad, so we went hiking instead," said Lisa Siemer, mother of the two sisters who went hiking with their fiance and boyfriend yesterday.

"I'd rather have spent the day underwater."

Cars proceeded carefully yesterday through a flooded section of Kalakaua Avenue. Constant rain caused minor flooding in Waikiki.

Star-Bulletin reporters Craig Gima and Mary Adamski contributed to this report.

chart 1

chart 2


Heavy rain to continue
till Monday

Don't expect blue sky any time before Monday at the earliest -- and even then it will be partly to mostly cloudy with scattered showers everywhere in the state except Kauai, according to the National Weather Service.

"The heavy rain is mainly concentrated on Oahu, and to some extent Molokai, Lanai and West Maui (today)," weather service meteorologist Hans Rosendal said yesterday evening.

Tomorrow, "the heaviest rainfall should be shifting towards Maui County and the Big Island," he said. Kauai could be clear by tomorrow, with the other islands following suit from west to east, he said.

However, the respite from rain could be short-lived, with another low front moving to the north of the islands toward the end of next week, Rosendal said, "with Kona winds, maybe a little on the gusty side."

The weather service predicts lows of 63 to 69 degrees tonight and highs of 73 to 79 degrees tomorrow, with winds shifting to the northwest at 10 to 20 mph.

By Monday, winds will shift to trades, at 10 to 20 mph, but scattered showers could continue. Highs are forecast through Wednesday at 73 to 79 degrees, with lows 62 to 68.

The service predicts isolated showers Tuesday, with continued tradewinds, then a shift to scattered showers Wednesday and winds shifting to the south.

A flood watch was in effect until at least 4 a.m. today for Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai. A small-craft advisory was in effect for all Hawaii waters due to moderate to strong southerly winds of 15 to 20 knots.


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