HANALEI — Aafke Zietz and her family were at a fundraiser for the Hanalei School Saturday night when the house they rent in Hanalei was flooded.
“I’d say we lost about 85 percent of everything we own,” Zeitz said Tuesday afternoon as she and a crew of family and friends pulled ruined furniture, clothing, appliances out of the house.
She pointed out an outside grill area that had been set up on a wooden pallet in the back yard that had been completely upended with a skateboard buried in the midst of the rubble. Her family sprayed mud out of their living room with the garden hose.
“The water came in and completely lifted the whole grill up and destroyed it. The water came up to the front window (above the lanai) and soaked our mattresses,” she said. “I don’t know if more water in the house is a good idea, but at this point, it can’t hurt and it cleans the mud out.”
Situated just before the bridge where officials closed the Kuhio Highway to traffic north of Hanalei, the house was surrounded by the innards of the Zeitz house, but also the yard was strewn with surf and paddle boards, and other items that don’t belong to the family.
Zeitz’s car was flooded past the top of the windows.
“We had boards float down here from the neighbors. We don’t know who they belong to right now,” Zeitz said as she pulled a scratched CD from the grass.
Kuhio Highway closed Saturday night because of the heavy rain and flooding of the Hanalei River area, and Zeitz said she wasn’t too worried at that time. Her plan was to ride out the storm in Princeville after the Starry Nights fundraiser for Hanalei School with her husband and kids, ages 8 and 12.
They left their golden retriever at home.
“Our neighbors called us and told us they were worried about our house and the dog because the water was getting really high,” she said. “I called another neighbor and he went through water waist high to save our dog.”
He had to go through the window and when he found the golden retriever, it was huddled on one of the kids’ beds, nervously watching the rising water, which was ready to encompass its refuge.
“He had to get the dog off the bed and out the house through the window, and they had to swim back to his place,” she said. “We’re all safe and we’re all alive. I’m really thankful for that.”
Most of their belongings, however, are ruined and the family is staying at a relative’s house in Princeville until it’s cleaned out. Zetiz is hoping mold doesn’t start growing in the walls.
And when the road opened back up they learned that their renter’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.
“It sucks,” Zeitz said. “It’s a lot that’s ruined.”
Down the road, around 50 community members gathered at Hanalei School where the classrooms all had to be sanitized and mud had to be cleaned out of parts of the school.
One resident stood at the crosswalk just past the school, stopping cars and redirecting traffic away from the school and the closed road ahead, telling people that they should only continue on if they are there to help, or if they live in that area.
Downtown, the flood that engulfed the Ching Young Village receded on Tuesday, leaving a hodgepodge of puddles with restaurateurs and wait staff cleaning.
Boxes, cushions and chairs were stacked outside of Hanalei Dolphin, which was hit hard by the rising river, which it fronts.
“We had some mud in the back,” Ben Wuu, who was mopping water out of the outside order area at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.
Just before the end of Weke Road, the pavement collapsed, and a sinkhole divided the road on Tuesday.
Kiana Mertz, 11, Abby Simmons, 10 and Emma Simmons, 13, were among the small group of locals checking out the break in the road just before Black Pot Beach, which Tuesday was riddled with erosion and sinkholes caused by the storm.
The three were part of a girls’ surf sleepover at a house near Pine Trees along Hanalei Bay Friday night and ended up staying in Hanalei through Sunday.
“About 4 a.m. on Saturday, they had people coming by and checking to see if everyone was OK,” Mertz said.
During a break in the storms, some of the 13 girls in the sleepover party were able to get home across the river.
“Laird Hamilton came and got some of us girls across the river,” Mertz said.
Then, there was round two.
“We were here (in Hanalei) when round two came and there was water everywhere,” Abby Simmons said. “The lifeguard come by on a JetSki and said we had to get outta there. “
The Simmons’ house is caked in mud as well, and they said they were cleaning in between their walks about town for all of Tuesday.