Jonah Wataru, 9, splashed his brother Justus, 7, while playing yesterday in the water runoff at their home in Hawaii Kai.

Rain soaks
parts of Oahu

Five sewage spills, minor
flooding and snarled traffic
result from a thunderstorm

Heavy rains are being blamed for minor flooding, traffic tie-ups, small mudslides and five sewage spills yesterday, which sent more than 150,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into roadways.

The rain, which dumped more than 5 inches of rain on Hawaii Kai over a 12-hour period, backed up traffic across Oahu and caused minor flooding in at least 13 homes. Two small mudslides that went over the road were also reported.

Forecasters said better weather -- maybe even some sun -- is likely for today. But the rain isn't expected to stay away for long.

National Weather Service Forecaster Tom Birchard said "unsettled weather" is expected to roll in late tomorrow, and persist through Thursday. The new storm system is headed this way from the northwest, and could mean heavy showers Tuesday through Thursday.

East Honolulu got the brunt of yesterday's storm, with thunder heard over the Koolaus.

Runoff from the rains apparently caused the three sewage spills in East Honolulu, the largest of which occurred at a manhole on Kalanianaole Highway near Hawaii Loa Ridge.

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday, an estimated 100,000 gallons had spilled from that site, city officials said. The problem was reported at about mid-afternoon.

Wailupe Place off Kalanianaole Highway sat under a lake of rainwater yesterday after heavy showers fell over Oahu. The rain flooded 10 homes and garages on the street.

Crews also found lumber from a nearby construction site in the sewer main, which could have contributed to the backup problem. Officials said one eastbound lane of Kalanianaole Highway remained closed last night at the spill site, near Puu Ikena Drive.

About 30,000 gallons of sewage flowed out of a manhole at Kawaihae Street and May Way in Hawaii Kai, the city Environmental Service Department said. The spill was reported about 4:20 p.m. by a crew from Hawaii-American Water Co., which operates the Hawaii Kai sewage system.

An estimated 10,000 gallons of raw sewage overflowed from a manhole at 5703-L Kalanianaole Highway between 1 and 7 p.m.

Runoff was also to blame in two smaller spills, city officials said.

At the Navy Marine Golf Course in Aliamanu, about 7,000 gallons of untreated sewage overflowed from a manhole. The spill was reported at 2:50 p.m. and ended more than two hours later. Officials said the wastewater was confined to the driving range, and cleanup will begin today.

About 1,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled at the Waimanalo Wastewater Treatment Plant, at 41-1060 Kalanianaole Highway, when injection wells at the plant overflowed. The water was filtered and disinfected.

Warning signs were posted at both East Honolulu spots, and state officials are expected to test downstream waters for contamination.

The sewage spills slowed traffic in the areas for hours as motorists tried to drive through 6 to 8 inches of water on the roadway. Fire Department spokesman Kenison Tejada said fire crews responded to the spill near Hawaii Loa Ridge, but could do little but wait for the waters to recede.

Skies were dark and gloomy yesterday afternoon as heavy rain fell on townbound traffic between Wahiawa and Mililani on the H-2 freeway. Forecasters said the storm resulted from showers from the southeast meeting a cold front from the northwest.

The heavy showers, which came down hardest between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. yesterday, flooded 10 homes and garages on Wailupe Place in Aina Haina. Three other homes elsewhere on Oahu also sustained minor flooding, Tejada said.

By noon yesterday, the Goto family's green living room carpet was covered with 5 inches of rainwater.

"I've been using a bucket to shovel up the water and throw it down the shower drain," said Jordan Goto, 13, who spent several hours trying to bail out the living room of his family's Wailupe Place home.

Goto's father, Mark, drove from store to store trying to find a pump or shop vacuum.

The National Weather Service said yesterday's storm system was the result of clouds and showers from the southeast meeting a cold front arriving from the northwest.

A flash flood warning was issued about 1:30 p.m. yesterday for parts of Oahu but was taken down later in the day.

The rains started about 9 a.m. in most places. By early afternoon, the rains were starting to cause problems.

Two mudslides were reported on Oahu, both of which caused lane closures. One happened near the Middle Street onramp, slowing traffic to a halt in the area for hours. Later in the day, Oahu Civil Defense volunteers helped direct traffic around a second minor mudslide near Makapuu, said spokesman John Cummings.

About 2:15 p.m., Pearl City police closed two westbound H-1 freeway lanes because of ponding. The lanes were reopened within two hours.

Star-Bulletin reporters Sally Apgar and Helen Altonn contributed to this report.

Rain totals

Top 10 rain totals for parts of Oahu in the 12-hour period ending at 5:45 p.m. yesterday.

1. Hawaii Kai Golf Course: 5.13 inches
2. Kamehameha: 4.29 inches
3. Waimanalo: 3.77 inches
4. Lyon Arboretum: 3.73 inches
5. Maunawili: 3.56 inches
6. Palolo Fire Station: 3.37 inches
7. Moanalua: 3.27 inches
8. Upper Nuuanu: 3.14 inches
9. Wilson Tunnel: 2.77 inches
10. Kunia Substation: 2.72 inches

Source: National Weather Service

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