A lone public worker stood ready to direct traffic Sunday as foot-deep water flowed down the main street of Waimea on the Big Island. Most of the debris was cleaned up by yesterday, but residents worried about a possible new wave of rain during the night.

Big Isle patches
up after floods

Workers provide water to
Waimea with temporary pipes

WAIMEA, Hawaii >> When Waikoloa Stream overflowed its banks Sunday, it sent a foot of water into Kanu O Ka Aina Charter School's computer laboratory, said school director Ku Kahakalau.

Four computers valued at tens of thousands of dollars were damaged, she said.

But Kahakalau's husband, Nalei, said he felt "empowered" by what followed. Teachers, staff, parents and students arrived to clean up the mess and carry on.

The rest of Waimea also carried on yesterday after northern and eastern areas of the Big Island were pounded by heavy rains over the weekend.

The rain eased yesterday, but a flash flood watch for the Big Island was continued until 4 a.m. today because conditions for more rain were still present, according to the National Weather Service. A watch means that flash flooding is possible but not imminent.

Waimea appeared to bear the brunt of the storm.

Two pipes carrying water to Waimea on the Big Island broke open Sunday when a raging stream knocked them off their concrete mountings, while a third, right, escaped damage. County workers have installed a temporary pipe into town.

After two 12-inch water pipes to the town broke, workers put a temporary 8-inch pipe in place and hoped to have a second temporary 12-inch pipe installed today, said Department of Water Supply official William Yamamoto. Those would be enough to supply the town and surrounding areas until permanent repairs can be made.

But with water uncertain, area public and private schools were to remain closed today.

Travel agency owner Jim Dahlberg said he heard pounding at the back of his building Sunday. It was Waikoloa Stream, eventually rising three feet up the side of the building.

In the same building, a second-story toilet overflowed above Peggy Wallace's Upcountry Connection art gallery, flooding an exhibition of oil paintings and pastels that opened a day earlier by artist Vicki Penney-Rohner.

Penney-Rohner lost four of her 22 artworks, each valued at $1,000.

Wallace found koa bowls floating in the gallery. She hung rugs on the railing outside the store. "We're drying out $1,000 rugs," she said. One by one, she turned customers away, asking them to come back in a week. The ones on vacation said they might be back in a year.

Twelve miles to the north, road crews said two to three weeks would be needed to replace a washed-out culvert on Kohala Mountain Road.

Rancher Monty Richard said a trip to the post office will now be a 60-mile drive instead of about 20. "The mail better be darned good," he said.


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