LIHU‘E — Heavy rains hammered Kaua‘i for another day Monday, flooding neighborhoods, toppling trees onto highways, forcing evacuations and making many roads impassable. Several schools will be closed today.
A manhole overflowed in Wailua, spilling thousands of gallons of sewage mixed with storm waters. Crews attempting to clear falling trees from some highways were “hindered by continuous falling branches and dangerous conditions” Monday night, Kaua‘i Civil Defense authorities reported.
A highway culvert that collapsed during earlier heavy rains collapsed again on Monday, and crews did not anticipate beginning repairs until mid-March.
Families and visitors began streaming into emergency shelters set up in Kapa‘a and Lihu‘e.
“This afternoon I issued a disaster declaration which will allow the county access to funding and additional resources should the need arise,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said.
“We have also requested the governor issue an emergency proclamation for the entire island of Kaua‘i, which will assist in acquiring resources from state and federal sources, if needed,” the mayor said in a statement released by his office.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the island until 11:30 p.m., and added that continued heavy rains and the danger of already swollen streams and rivers would likely extend that warning. A severe thunderstorm watch remained in effect most of Monday night, a high surf warning remained in effect for east-facing shores of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau. A high surf advisory was issued for north- and west-facing shores until 6 p.m. today. There is also a wind advisory in effect until at least 6 a.m. today.
“It was really blowing with really heavy rains. There was water on the road in several places, and there were pieces of tree branches washing across the road,” said Russ Josephson, a teacher at Kapa‘a Middle School who lives in the Wailua Homesteads — one of the hard-hit communities Monday.
A sewage spill was reported when a manhole overflowed in Wailua adjacent to the Wailua Wastewater Treatment Plant.
An additional spill of treated and chlorinated effluent took place at the Wailua Wastewater Treatment Plant. The county Wastewater Management Division reported the treatment plant had exceeded capacity due to the heavy rains.
The sewage spill at the manhole mixed with the storm water runoff and collected at Lydgate Park adjacent to the park’s main pavilion and its adjoining areas, including the Kamalani Playground, according to a county news release.
County officials do not know the actual volume of sewage spilled, but the overflow of the manhole is estimated to consist of approximately 3,000 to 4,000 gallons.
The manhole spill started at about 12:30 p.m. and later stopped. The treated wastewater spill started at approximately 12:45 p.m. and had not stopped by Monday night. Caution signs were erected by county crews.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a disaster proclamation Friday authorizing the state Department of Transportation to start emergency highway repair work in response to a partial collapse of a 15-foot-diameter culvert running beneath a stretch of Kuhio Highway serving the North Shore from Kilauea. On Monday morning, another section of that culvert near Mile Marker 22.5 collapsed, the state Highway Department reported.
Repair plans were already under way, traffic was being diverted to nearby roads, and construction was expected to begin in mid-March, the highway department reported.
“Emergency repairs are necessary for the safety of all those who use this popular corridor,” Abercrombie said in a news release. “State traffic personnel are working to ensure the north Kaua‘i communities remain accessible to residents and visitors.”
The state Department of Education Monday afternoon announced the following schools will be closed today: Hanalei School, Kilauea School, Kapa‘a High School, Kapa‘a Middle School and Kapa‘a Elementary School. Hanalei School also closed its doors Monday. Island School Principal Robert Springer announced late Monday that Island School will be closed today, too.
Parents of students attending King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School were told no bus service from Wailua Bridge to Hanalei would be provided today. All other public and charter schools will be open today, the education agency stated.
Throughout the day, motorists were urged by county and National Weather Service officials to stay off roadways and away from beaches and overflowing streams and rivers.
“We want to encourage everyone on Kaua‘i to be vigilant, stay home, if at all possible, continue to monitor the media and call 911 only if you have an emergency,” Carvalho said.
Anahola residents living in the vicinity of Anahola Bridge and Kiko‘o Loop were urged to seek higher ground due to major flooding in the area throughout the day.
Kuhio Highway near Hanalei Bridge on the island’s hard-hit North Shore has been closed since 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with police observations noting the water overflow from Hanalei River reaching past the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant. The bridge also was closed Monday.
Police also reported flooding on Aku Road, and a landslide in Waikoko near Mile Markers 5 and 6 which blocked one lane of Kuhio Highway and a fallen tree along the southbound lane in the vicinity of Lumahai.
Kuhio Highway near the Ha‘ena Beach Park has remained closed since 11:35 a.m. Sunday. Kapa‘a Bypass Road was closed Monday.
People forced from flooded homes or unable to reach home because of road closings began reporting to emergency shelters set up Monday night. Kaua‘i Civil Defense officials opened Waioli Church in Hanalei as a temporary rest shelter.
By 6:30 p.m., the American Red Cross had opened emergency shelters at Kapa‘a Middle School, the Koloa Neighborhood Center and the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center.
Kaua‘i Area Complex Superintendent William Arakaki accompanied a busload of people to the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center. He said about 200 guests from the Kaua‘i Beach Resort showed up at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School after the resort shut down because of an electricity outage.
“Their generators are underwater,” Arakaki said. “They had to have electricity, but we couldn’t have them at King Kaumuali‘i because we have school, so we brought them to the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center because the roads to Kapa‘a are just too wet.”
Arakaki said some of the guests were able to get special rates from the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa, while others prepared to spend the night at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center.
A county spokesperson said the Emergency Operating Center was in the process of opening additional shelters that will be manned by the American Red Cross.
Shelters provide a place for displaced persons to sleep, although bedding, food and other comforts will not be provided.
People were urged to bring bedding, snacks and medicines to the shelters.
Roads which were not closed experienced “serious ponding,” and police manned some of the more critical areas, including Kuhio Highway at Leho Drive just past the Wailua Golf Course.
Wailua Golf Course will be closed to the public today and Wednesday because of flooding on the course, the county Department of Parks and Recreation reported Monday.
National Weather Service updates
The National Weather Service reported that winds out of the northeast are associated with a high pressure system expected to prevail until today, bringing 25 mph to 35 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph.
Winds this strong can bring down tree branches and make driving difficult, the weather service reported.
The highest rainfall recorded since Sunday afternoon fell in Wainiha and Hanalei with 15.84 and 17.47 inches falling in 24 hours from 8 p.m. Sunday through 8 p.m. Monday.
Kapahi reported 13.82 inches, Mt. Waialeale reported 10.39 inches and Wailua measured 10.07 inches. Lihu‘e Airport posted 8.09 inches.
“I want to encourage our entire ‘ohana on Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau to work together and take care of each other until this severe weather subsides,” Carvalho said.
“Mahalo to each of you for doing what you can to minimize the negative impact of what we’re experiencing.”