Animals escape Hanalei pasture, wander on beach

  • Photo by Ian Nelson

    One of three bison that got over the fence of their pasture in Hanalei due to heavy rains walks along the beach at Hanalei Bay.

While houses were being swept away and sinkholes were opening up all over the North Shore of Kauai, Andy Friend was working to wrangle three bison off of the reef at Hanalei Bay.

“They’re contained now,” Friend said in the midst of the weekend’s record rainfall on Kauai. “The pasture flooded and two or three got over the fence either because the water was so high they just got over the fence, or maybe debris knocked it down, we can’t tell right now.”

He continued: “The water’s down four of five feet from what it was three or four hours ago. It was seven hours of thunder and lightning nonstop. We were getting around four inches every hour. The bison got out on the reef once the fence was breached.”

And while residents and tourists alike wondered at the large animals wandering around the Hanalei River mouth, Adrian Nichols of Kapahi said he was glad he stayed far away from that area when he chose a spot to hunker down for the night.

“I work out at the Hanalei Dolphin and the road closed last night (Saturday night) about an hour before we closed,” he said. “I stayed in traffic until 11 before a cop came by and told us the road wasn’t reopening and we should find somewhere to stay for the night.”

The first place Nichols targeted to camp out in his full-sized Ford pickup truck was Black Pot Beach by the pier. On the way, he encountered flooding that reached the hood of his pickup.

“Looking back, everywhere I was thinking about being would have been under water at some point. I ended up at Pine Trees. I was the only one there, but the first place I went was to the pier,” he said.

The night was a full of wild weather and Nichols said he could barely open the doors of his pickup at some points during the night because of the relentless wind and rain.

“It was constant thunder and lightning,” he said. “Now, it’s kind of isolated and it really is gorgeous.”

By the time morning rolled around, cars were overturned at Hanalei Pier and the rain had cut deep rivets through the parking lot and area leading up to the pier.

The sun rose on a ghost town in Hanalei Sunday morning, Nichols said, with only a handful of people wandering through streets that were flooded with three feet of water in some places.

For part of Sunday, the skies cleared in Hanalei and Nichols said the spread of waterfalls were spectacular as he sat in his pickup, trying to decide what to do next.

“Big Save is pretty much the only thing that’s open and they’re only letting one person in at a time. There’s a line out the door. I was over that, so I’m hanging at Grandpa’s (surf break in Hanalei Bay) now,” Nichols said.

Meanwhile, Friend said he’s waiting until the water recedes in the bison pastures in order to ascertain the extent of the damage.

“These are the only ones that got over the fence that we know of. We hope the young ones are OK. We can’t see the ground now.”

Kuhio Highway was closed in multiple places from Wailua to Haena on Sunday, isolating areas of the island. American Red Cross shelters opened up around the east and north side in areas like Princeville and Kapaa Middle School.

And on Sunday, as Kauai awaited another round of thunderstorms coming in from the northwest, Nichols sat at Grandpa’s surf break, just spending time watching the ocean.

“Sounds like the road is closed in Kalihiwai, so even if I get past the Hanalei Bridge, I’m double stuck,” he said.

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