While most of the wild weather weekend’s damage was on the North Shore — Hanalei received 22.70 inches of rain during the 24-hour period ending 3 p.m. Sunday — the Eastside wasn’t spared. There was heavy flooding in Wailua and Anahola, as well.
On Sunday, residents and visitors shared stories of rescue and drama from the weekend’s record-setting rainfall.
“We’re from Oregon,” Dena Amend said Sunday. “We can handle the rain.”
“We were just lucky to be here in Kapaa,” Amend added. “We were staying at a place north of Hanalei until two days ago. Rain can’t stop us from riding our bicycles.”
The Oregon group was bicycling around the area of their accommodations, stopping to get photos of the flooded apron fronting the Coconut Marketplace.
“We came to Kauai for some excitement,” said Ilona Henderson of Philadelphia. “We were trying to get back, and were looking for the road when suddenly, we couldn’t move.”
Henderson, along with her friends Katerine Jurkova and Timothy Bronson, were caught in floodwaters coming off the Wailua Golf Course in their rental car Sunday morning near the Tim Bynum Memorial Bridge on the southern end of Lydgate Park.
“This was before the sun came up,” said Shawnell Soares who was camping in the Lydgate Park campgrounds.
“I heard this person calling for help. When I got there, the water was so high and Dustin Woodward was already underwater trying to get to the tow bar. I just dug the sand to try and get the water away from the car. Poor things. And this is the first time they’re coming to Kauai.”
Woodward said he heard the cries for help and just dove into the water.
“I was panicked,” Henderson said. “We got out of the car and looked for help, and the people came.”
Floodwaters affected a lot of the eastern end of the island, notably in Anahola where the river broke its bank and flooded the homes and pastureland downstream.
“It was around 4 a.m.,” said Keli‘i Kinney, whose home sits on the banks of the Anahola River.
“I got the call from Val, who has the first house on the river and makes it a point to call other homes when anything happens to the river. It all happened in about two hours. I lost some chickens and ducks, and I just came back from fetching some of the cages that were washed downstream.”
Kinney added, “The real stories are downstream where some people lost everything. There’s a house near the end of the road where they lost their cars, vans, dirt bikes and even a boat. The good thing is that nobody got hurt.”
Devin Ruiz, a member of the Rotary Club of Kapaa, owns one of those homes downstream of the breach.
He was busy cleaning mud and debris from around his house while his friends occupied themselves with trying to salvage a mate harvest.
“We know we live in a flood plain,” Ruiz said. “That’s why the homes are all on stilts. When Val called to tell us to move the cars, some of the people, in trying to move the cars, got stuck in the mud. The water came super quick. I lost an SUV that someone said was floating in the ocean after being washed downstream. And it wasn’t even raining that hard. It was windy, though, and that made it hard to hear the water.”
Russell Haluapo, an Anahola resident, said he arrived at the scene following church.
“You know they’re going to need help,” Haluapo said amid the rumbling of thunder coming from a canopy of gray clouds.
“They were trying to cut these big trees with their chainsaws, but that wasn’t going to work. I went home and came back with the big saw so we could cut the trunks into smaller pieces. We’re not going to haul them away, but if the river comes up again, at least they can float away.”
Ruiz said in addition to the debris, there is all the mud that needs to be hauled off.
“This is not over yet,” Ruiz said. “We’re keeping an eye on the river.”