Rain returns, wreaks more havoc

LIHU‘E — Water, water, everywhere, but the Department of Water is requesting residents and visitors in the Kilauea, Kalihiwai, Pu‘u Pane and Waipake areas to conserve water.

Currently, only one well is operational and will not be able to keep up with regular demands, according to a county spokesperson.

Residents are requested to restrict water consumption to essential uses only to avoid a water outage in the area. Essential needs includes cooking, bathing, and toilet flushing.

More than nine inches of rain in the Hanalei area and elsewhere played havoc on Kaua‘i, still reeling from the effects of recent heavy rain and thunderstorms.

The latest bout of rain and thunderstorms was compounded with high winds, resulting in trees and branches being toppled and causing roads to be closed and sporadic power outages throughout the east and north ends of the island.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 12:51 a.m. as heavy rain, thunder and lightning pelted the eastern and northern ends of the island.

Kaua‘i Civil Defense also received reports of hail in the Kawaihau area. A TGI newspaper employee said this was the first time in her life she saw hail, and her son, a football player with the Kapa‘a High School team, busily collected samples of the ice balls.

Adding to this uncommon weather phenomenon, Civil Defense received a report of a residence on Puaole Street in Lihu‘e sustaining wind damage to its roof.

Roads closed

Residents and visitors awoke to the closure of Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of the Hanalei Bridge, which took effect at 1:56 a.m. and remained in effect for the rest of the day.

Kuhio Highway south of the Kalihiwai Bridge was closed due to a landslide and reopened at 1 p.m., after state Department of Transportation crews cleared the roadway.

Kuhio Highway fronting the Wailua Golf Course and the intersection of Rice Street and Kapule Highway in Lihu‘e were closed from 2:35 a.m., later re-opening as debris and floodwaters receded; the Wailua Golf Course portion of Kuhio Highway reopened at 4:30 a.m. with the public encouraged to stay off the roadways unless necessary.

Landslides peppered the island’s east and north shores, with a portion of Kapule Highway near the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club being closed in the early morning hours, later re-opening after the DOT cleared the three-lane heap.

Landslides also closed one lane of Kuhio Highway near Lumahai.

Due to the heavy ponding and flooding, the Kaua‘i Bus was restricted to no service north of Hanama‘ulu before the restriction was lifted as weather conditions improved shortly after 8 a.m. Bus service only went as far north as Kilauea.

Near Hanama‘ulu, the 125-foot Kapaia suspension bridge was a casualty of the overnight rains and flooding as daylight brought a scene of heavy debris piled up at one of its two wooden towers and a large portion of the rotting wooden walkway dangling from its cable.

The bridge, built in 1948 and last repaired in 1965, was finally closed in 2006 by the county for safety concerns.

After the bridge was placed on the state’s Historic Register in 2008, a group of community members attempted to convince the county administration to restore the bridge.

The Kapahi Bridge at the Kawaihau and Kahuna road junction is also closed for repairs until the middle of next week; large debris carried by raging floodwaters hammered the bridge’s upstream side Thursday night and Friday morning.

Still, as some as roads closed, another re-opened as the southern leg of the Kapa‘a bypass road was reopened after workers replaced a 36-inch culvert damaged by flooding with a 42-inch pipe and completed repaving by Thursday night, a full four days ahead of schedule, said Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the state DOT.

Ohiki Road in Hanalei, Kalihiwai Road heading toward Kalihiwai Beach, ‘Anini Road leading to ‘Anini Beach, Ka‘apuni Road in Kapa‘a, Kuhio Highway south of Kalihiwai Bridge were closed for periods throughout the day.

Ka‘apuni Road was closed following a tree toppling and taking out utility lines near the water tank and reopened once everything was addressed.

Power outages

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative reported power outages in ‘Anini, Kalihiwai and Kilauea with isolated outages reported on Ka‘apuni Road and in the Molokoa Subdivision in Lihu‘e.

Power was also out at the Kapa‘a refuse transfer station, limiting its intake to only bagged trash during the outage.

The Hanalei refuse transfer station is closed due to the closure of the highway near Hanalei Bridge, and green waste is not being accepted at any transfer station except Hanapepe.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park due to damage on the Kalalau Trail, observed when Kaua‘i state parks staff flew over to assess conditions. Repairs will be made once the highways and bridges to the area are reopened.

“Through inconvenient, these closures are in the interest of public safety, until conditions improve and any needed repairs can be made,” DLNR Chair William Aila Jr. said in a news release. “We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation.”

Wailua Marina, which early in the week was mired in runoff and mud from adjacent fields, remains open, the release from DLNR states.

Parks, shopping affected

Lydgate Park and the Wailua Golf Course remain closed, the golf course still recovering from the effects of flooding while Lydgate is closed due to an earlier sewage spill, which mixed with runoff and collected in a low area of the park.

The state Department of Health has a brown-water advisory in effect; the public is advised to stay out of pooled floodwaters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal waste, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals and associated flood debris.

“It’s a short market, today,” said Glenna Ueunten, a vendor at the county’s Lihu‘e sunshine market Friday as a steady rain drenched the Vidinha Stadium parking lot. “We opened ahead of time, but only about half of the vendors showed up, and the same with the shoppers.”

Terry Phillips, the county’s market monitor, said all of the rain is taking a toll on the farmers.

“I can see some of the differences in the produce, now,” she said following several weekends of torrential rain. “And with the hail this morning, the papaya trees must be bolo-head.”

The National Weather Service reports 9.79 inches of rain falling in the Hanalei area in a 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. In the same 24 hours, Wainiha reported 7.94 inches, Anahola had 6.68 inches, Kapahi clocked in at 7.65 inches, Wailua had 4.68 inches and the Lihu‘e Airport reported 3.63 inches.

On the leeward side, only trace amounts of rain were recorded in the same 24-hour period, with ‘Oma‘o reporting .19 inch and Pu‘u Opa‘e at .17 inch. Kalaheo reported .05 inch, Hanapepe had .08 inch and Waimea Heights reported .09 inch.

Warnings still in effect

A flash flood warning remained in effect at least until 11 p.m. for Kaua‘i in areas north of Lihu‘e through Ha‘ena despite the area of intense rainfall moving offshore Friday afternoon. A flash flood watch is in effect for the remainder of the island through 6 a.m. today.

Coupled with those weather advisories, the wind advisory has been extended until 6 p.m. Saturday and a high surf advisory for the east-facing shores of Kaua‘i with rough and choppy surf from 6 to 10 feet remains in effect until 6 p.m., Sunday.

Kapa‘a Middle School was opened at 5 p.m. by the American Red Cross as a shelter for people who cannot stay in their homes due to flooding. People needing help were encouraged to call Kaua‘i Civil Defense at 241-1800 for assistance.

Hawai‘i State Civil Defense has activated a toll-free number for damage reports from residents whose property, homes, or businesses were damaged by the ongoing severe weather. Reports can be done by calling 1-855-211-7456, extension 654.

Visit www.prf.noaa.gov/pr/hnl/ for more information, or call 241-1725 for updates on road closures.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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