Kauai readies for Olivia

  • CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE CENTER

    The forecast track for Tropical Storm Olivia as of 5 a.m. Thursday.

LIHUE — As Maui County weathered winds that wrenched trees from the ground and rains that raised the rivers Wednesday afternoon, people on Kauai watched the skies.

Tropical storm warnings were canceled Tuesday night for Kauai and Hawaii Island and public schools were open on both islands and on Oahu on Wednesday as the storm made landfall in the West Maui mountains.

It continued west and forecasters say by the time Tropical Storm Olivia leaves Hawaii it could drop up to 15 inches of rain in some areas.

On Kauai’s North Shore, which is still recovering from flooding in April and then again in late August when Tropical Storm Lane moved by, things were quiet Wednesday afternoon.

“Still calm,” reported Megan Fox, with the nonprofit Malama Kauai. “Prepared.”

She pointed out the Hawaii Food Bank is still doing drop-offs Tuesdays and Thursdays for people past the roadblock on Kuhio Highway since some residents in the Haena and Wainiha areas are still having transportation and access issues.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday Olivia had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving west-southwest at 20 mph. It was 255 miles west of Hilo, 110 miles southwest of Honolullu and 130 south of Lihue.

Elsa Flores Almaraz said her house in the Haena Flats gets surrounded by water after almost every heavy rain and she’s getting tired of preparing for all of the storms that have been moving through the Central Pacific and setting sights on Hawaii.

“Our aina is so fully saturated that it doesn’t take much to begin ponding,” she said. “But, trying to keep a good sense of humor and count my blessings.”

On Wednesday afternoon she reported “all is calm down here so far. Very little rain.”

“People know the drill all too well by now,” Almaraz added. “The new normal is daunting and exhausting, but we’ve discovered that we are strong, resilient and a unified community after going through this together since April. We ready!”

At about 4 p.m. Wednesday it was raining on the other side of the island and Margie Merryman of Kalaheo reported some wind gusts starting to pick up.

“We were ready for Lane and we left the boards up on our bigger windows,” Merryman said.

She’s taking it a step further in preparation with months left in hurricane season, and is getting estimates for storm shutters and having the gas company plumb a line so the family can hook their generator to their propane tank in the event they lose power.

“The neighbors across the street left their windows boarded up, too. We are prepared,” she said.

Down the road in Omao, Holly Van Every said she hasn’t gotten any major rain yet — just light showers and wind gusting at around 17 miles per hour.

“No flooding, just some broken branches and a huge agave plant that fell into our biggest pond,” Van Every said.

A high surf advisory and a flash flood watch are in effect until Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

And once the storm passes, the state Department of Health is reminding everyone that there will most likely be lingering brown water, and a potential for power outages.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Tropical Storm Olivia was granted Wednesday, one day after the request was submitted.

The declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures in the effort to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe, according to Ige’s office.

According to thte National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm Olivia was set to move past the islands by Friday.

“Despite the tropical storm warning being discontinued, we still anticipate that Olivia will bring strong winds and heavy rains with the potential for life-threatening flash flooding,” said Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. “Residents and visitors should continue to monitor local media for updates on hazardous conditions, as well as road, school or other closures as a result of severe weather.”

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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