Flooding hits North Shore, downpours soak island

Road to Hanalei closed

While the North Shore was being rained on nearly all day, the East Side, including Lihu’e, Kapahi and Wailua got its share starting at about 3 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory at 4 p.m. The advisory meant more “nuisance”flooding occurred in neighborhoods and urban areas, and that motorists should be careful.

At 7 p.m. the Kaua’i Police Department closed the road to Hanalei due to flooding in areas where taro fields meet the road between Hanalei Bridge and the Trader building at Hanalei.

Wainiha received three inches of rain in three hours, from about 12:45 – 3:45 p.m. As of 5 p.m. the 12-hour rain gauge readings showed Wainiha received the most rain, with 4.82 inches and Hanalei with 4.19 inches.

Wailua’s rain gauge measured 1.61 inches and Kapahi 1.7 at 5 p.m. The areas with the least rain were Hanapepe and Kalaheo, with .29 and .24 inches from 5 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Steve Kyono, state highways Kaua’i district engineer, said his crews were so busy responding to incidents that he couldn’t elaborate on exactly what they were doing.

They placed a lighted sign atop Kealia hill to warn North-bound drivers of flooding conditions and cleared the road of a mudslide in Wainiha after regular working hours.

As of nightfall Thursday evening, the Kaua’i Police Department’s Traffic Safety division hadn’t listed any traffic crashes despite numerous hazards caused by the heavy rains.

Two boulders the size of barrels rolled into the Wailua Marina Restaurant parking lot.

At about 2 p.m., lifeguards closed the Ha’ena tower and on the way back up to Hanalei, they reported rocks and mud blocking the roadway near the upper emergency callbox at Lumaha’i.

A utility pole was downed in Waipa near the farmers’ market, and the Hanalei Bridge was closed at 6:30 p.m.

In the evening, the Kaua’i Police Department cited hazardous driving conditions in Lumaha’i, Wainiha bridges, Kalihiwai Bridge, Papaloa Road, Kuamo’o Road near Opaeka’a Falls, Hulemalu and Halehaka Roads, Ke’aka Street in Kapa’a and Akahi Street in Lihu’e.

“When I was up (in Wailua Homesteads) today, it was just starting, and I got back to Puhi before it really started pouring,”said one Waipouli resident. “When I was driving back through Lihu’e, everything was slowing down but people are driving really courteously and letting each other turn in. The water is really deep on the shoulders.”

After lunch, First Hawaiian Bank, the Lihue Plantation Building and other offices on Umi and Rice Streets in Lihu’e partially lost electric power for about 30 – 45 minutes, according to Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative power plant workers.

Police noted a small mudslide on Kawaihau Road, and they had to direct traffic around some swollen stretches of the road. County Public Works personnel cleared mud off the road at about 5 p.m., and near Wailua Golf Course at about 3:30 p.m.

“The road by the golf course was really bad; traffic was backed up but people were (still) speeding,”one caller reported to The Garden Island.

Local radio personalities also helped keep motorists up-to-date on driving conditions and hazards.

“Quite a few people called to complain that drivers are driving too fast, along Wailua Stretch,”said Mark Valentin at KQNG, “Its not that I can go out there and help direct traffic, but just to let people know that it isn’t so good out there right now, and to be careful.”

National Weather Service forecasters predict that overcast conditions will continue through today, and that the heaviest showers will probably be over by early morning. However, rains may continue on and off today.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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