Red mud ‘road flooded’ signs predominate

HANAPEPE — The gooey, red mud oozed between the toes of Maya Itagaki, and her clean, slippered feet were soon the color of the watery mud she was shoveling.

Members of the Itagaki family were spending the waning moments of Wednesday afternoon shoveling off the long driveway leading to the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji after heavy overnight rains sent the red mud down along the stretch of Kaumuali’i Highway from Omoide Bakery & Delicatessen to the Habitat for Humanity facility.

Shigeko Itagaki explained that, across the street at Mariko’s, the level of the mud could be seen in the flood line on the chain-link gate.

At the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji, the debris-laden, muddy water flooded the temple’s yard before flowing out into the neighboring Hanapepe Stadium complex.

She pointed out the collection of debris that carpeted the front of the statue at one end of the church yard.

“They came by earlier and washed the road,” Maya Itagaki said. “That’s why the road is so clean.”

The red mud being cleaned up by members of the Itagaki family was not limited to Hanapepe as, earlier in the morning, traffic near the Kaumakani overpass was restricted to a single lane due to mud spilling onto the highway.

The drone of water pumps broke the evening stillness in Waimea Valley, as members of a county crew joined residents in the area of the West Kauai Hongwanji, Waimea Temple, in trying to lower the flooded area there.

A similar drone enveloped the property of Bruddah Joe, a resident of Waimea Valley, as he and several other residents manned shovels in trying to rebuild the ford to Waimea River.

“My kitchen was half underwater,” Joe said. “I might have to build my hale all over again.”

A boat that he had stored on his property floated as if it were moored in a marina, as muddy water nearly reached the hub of his parked pickup truck.

“This is all just from the rain,” he said. “It rained hard all night, and this water came from the other valley,” he added, pointing towards a valley that forked away from the source of the Waimea River.

Meanwhile, the Waimea River was flowing swiftly, colored brown from its load of silt and mud.

Joe and a couple of the valley residents were manning shovels in an attempt at clearing the roadway leading to the ford.

Once the water level subsides, Joe explained that they will arrange the rocks to form the crossing that cars use to traverse the river.

As his wife and son came home, Joe said, “Well, maybe I gotta build a bridge from where they sleep to the berm” that was higher than the water that flooded the bottom section of their hale.

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