HANALEI — Power was still out in some of Kauai’s North Shore Wednesday evening as a swollen Hanalei River caused the closure of Kuhio Highway and blocked access for repairs.
It’s just one of many areas affected by the storms that have drenched the island for the last two days.
“As soon as we can get through Hanalei, we will attempt to restore power to Ha’ena and Wainiha,” Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The outage happened in Wainiha and Ha’ena about 2:30 p.m., which is when KIUC received reports of a possible transformer issue in Wainiha.
“Due to the closure of Kuhio Highway in Hanalei, we have been able to get equipment to Wainiha to address the problem,” Tokioka said.
Wednesday’s outages started about 2 a.m. with trees on a line in Kokee causing outages. Power was restored in that area about 11 a.m.
Between 7 and 7:45 a.m. several momentary outages impacted all or parts of the North Shore — Kalihiwai to Wainiha — due to lightning strikes, Tokioka said.
An unknown cause triggered an outage that also impacted customers from Kalihiwai to Wainiha at about 7:45 a.m.
“After several unsuccessful attempts to restore power remotely, we sent a troubleshooter to patrol the north shore transmission line to locate the problem,” Tokioka said.
In the meantime, KIUC started re-routing power from the Anahola substation to restore portions of the north shore and was able to restore Kalihiwai, Anini, Kilauea and Hanalei.
“Our troubleshooter was able to get up in a helicopter despite the weather and found a tree on the transmission line deep in the Hanalei Valley,” Tokioka said.
She continued: “The weather was too stormy for us to send a tree trimming crew out to clear the problem. Nevertheless, we were able to safely and successfully energize the transmission line, and by 12 noon all members on the North Shore were restored.”
That is, until the 2:30 p.m. transformer issue that cut off power for Wainiha and Ha’ena.
Hanalei School was closed and turned into an American Red Cross shelter.
“A lot of people have come by,” said Padraic Gallagher, Kauai Red Cross director.
Overnight, the storm dumped enough water to raise the level in the Hanalei River from two feet to more than 10 feet in two hours.
In the 24 hours — from Tuesday about 3 p.m. to Wednesday at 3 p.m. —Princeville Airport received 6.16 inches of rain. Hanalei’s gauge broke and stopped recording data around 10 a.m.
By morning, Ke’e and Ha’ena beaches were closed, access to Maha’ulepu was closed; the state closed access to the Kalalau Trail; and the Kekaha Landfill and green waste and all transfer stations on the island were closed.
The Hanalei Bridge over Kuhio Highway was closed about 9:30 a.m.
“We’ll be here until the bridge re-opens,” Gallagher said about the American Red Cross shelter at the Hanalei School.
Kapahi reported 2.45 inches in that 24-hour time period, the Wailua Ditch recorded 5.48 inches, Mount Waialeale recorded 12.14 inches, and Lihue reported 1.13 inches from the Vidinha Stadium.
On Kauai’s leeward side, Puu Opae recorded 1.81 inches, Omao recorded 1.44 inches, and Hanapepe recorded 1.81 inches. Mana gauge recorded 1.92 inches.
A flash flood warning was issued for the entire island on Wednesday morning, and the National Weather Service turned it into a watch at 3:30 p.m. through the night due to a stalled front on the northwest side of the state.
A brown water advisory was issued statewide from the Department of Health, which advises the public to stay out of floodwaters and storm water runoff.
“The Department of Health has been really proactive in sending out announcements,” said Surfrider Kauai’s Blue Water Task Force head Carl Berg. “But we (Surfrider) thinks they should post physical signs on the beaches, especially where there are lifeguards, to announce brown water advisories.”
The potential for more sharks in the water should also be included in the advisory, Berg said.
“Sharks cruise around in the muddy water and they can’t see, they’re out there looking for all those dead animals, the pigs and stuff,” Berg said. “Muddy water and dead animals increases the risk that sharks are present.”
The flash flood watch and the brown water advisory remain in effect and DOH advises the public to stay out of the water on the whole island of Kauai.