Following extremely heavy rain, lightning and thunder that raged Saturday night it’s safe to say daily life in the small peaceful town of Wainiha soon took an unexpected turn. People living in the area say this flooding event could possibly be the worst in the last 30 years or possibly ever. Having lived in the North Shore for most of my life and being from Hanalei originally, I am simply stunned by the storm and the events that have unfolded as a result of it.
Never before have I experienced a storm of this magnitude, which escalated so quickly and with so much power. After a few hours of steady yet mild rain suddenly there was thunder and lightning and massive amounts of rainfall.
It didn’t take long before streams of brown muddy water came pouring from down the mountain and through the rain forest towards our house. It came into our yard like several small waterfalls. It wasn’t long before the backyard was consumed by flowing water, which then surged over another hill and a set of stairs to the road Ananalu below, resembling wild rapids.
Meanwhile even more muddy rain water was gushing down the driveway like a river, flowing through the garage door that refused to close and through the garage door on the other side.
As the storm was brewing I was by myself at home with my kids, age nine and a half months and seven years old. Power had gone out a few hours ago at the time and had been off most of the day, as it was off in the morning and the night before. I knew the storm was going to be big but it was definitely more intense than I had ever imagined.
What was more surprising and alarming though was that water suddenly was beginning to leak and spread all across the floor of the house. I had finished feeding the baby only to have my daughter run in from another room saying “Mom, there’s water in the kitchen! And the bathroom too!” Water was coming in and it was increasing as the rain was getting more intense.
Anything dry and absorbent available became mopping material to stop the flooding. This process went on for hours until I ran out of towels, bedding, and other similar items. Power had come back long enough in the afternoon to do a couple rounds of laundry to dry and again start absorbing the continuous flow of water from outside.
Meanwhile I did my best to entertain the kids when possible, playing with the baby with stuffed animals and saying scary ghost stories with my oldest. For the most part I was proud of how well they handled everything, the innocence of childhood is amazing I soon learned.
My husband had gone to work and we were unsure when he would return, though he came back Sunday fortunately on a Jet Ski with his friends and brought supplies. He has spent much of his time trying to help families to clean up the landslide nearby our road. On the other side on Hanalei he helped people out of ditches and flooded areas using the wench on his truck.
I am grateful for all the help from the community and the army and FEMA for what they have provided with food, water and supplies. My heart goes out to those who have sacrificed so much during this disaster. Who would have thought that this storm would be so disastrous in ways that it reminded people of Hurricane Iniki or worse?
Monique Rowan is a Wainiha resident.