Neighbor helped neighbor during Wailua flooding

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A log blocks one span of the Wailua Bridge on the Lihu‘e end, Friday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Travis, Karen and Phil Wood come to check on the Wailua River Friday after getting some clean up work done at contractor Nathan Wood’s facility that suffered some damage from the flood water.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Fig Mitchell and friends, his pickup loaded with belongings from families that were forced to evacuate long the Wailua River, stop to check on the well-being of contractor Nathan Wood’s facilities Friday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The passage ways on the eastern end of the Wailua Bridge are cleared of sand build up by the force of the Wailua River flood waters Friday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The vegetation line indicates how high the Wailua River rose over its banks Friday afternoon. In the background, vegetative debris collect at the Wailua Bridge.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A curiosity-seeker gets photos of the rapidly-declining Wailua River from the launch ramp at Kaumuali‘i Park Friday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Police Department officers monitor the flooded Wailua Marina Friday afternoon.

  • Sabrina Bodon / The Garden Island

    Flooding from the Wailua River affected several businesses Friday evening, including the Hoomana Thrift Shop.

  • Sabrina Bodon / The Garden Island

    The water levels in the Wailua River rose to flood levels due heavy rains Friday. Large sand berms restricted the flow of the river to to ocean causing the river to rise above flood levels.

WAILUA — Friday, the Wailua River rose rapidly due to flash-flood conditions.

The Kaua‘i Police Department advised homeowners in the area to be mindful of the river and be prepared for potential evacuation. Officials asked the public to avoid being on the roads and, if possible, to stay in place.

Flooding from the Wailua River affected several businesses Friday evening, including the Ho‘omana Thrift Shop. Officials monitored the Wailua River and Kuhio Highway closed Friday in the vicinity of Hanalei Bridge as flash flooding caused waters to rise.

“A little higher and a little longer,” said Phil Wood of Nathan Wood General Contractor, who paused from cleaning the shop and offices near the bank of the Wailua River. “The damage could’ve been a lot greater.”

KPD said the flooding happened quickly, and once the collected sand and debris under the Kuhio Highway bridges over the river were flushed by the raging floodwaters, water subsided almost as quickly as it rose.

“The level was pretty high,” said an officer monitoring the situation at the flooded Wailua Marina. “We had to evacuate the thrift store and some of the residents living along Kuamo‘o Road because the water was level with the road. Once the mouth opened up, the water dropped quickly.”

Kamika Smith of Smith’s Motor Boat Service and Smith’s Tropical Paradise was obviously a victim of the flooding that forced fallen trees and other vegetative debris into the kayak-launching area. There were no damages to the parked river barges, where flood waters were waist-deep at several points.

“The water came over the berm at the Smith’s Lu‘au and Tropical Paradise,” Smith said. “Someone told me to move my car. When I got outside, the water was coming at me. I was able to move the car and told one of the ladies she had to move her car, too.”

Nathan Wood General Contractor was one of the businesses impacted by floodwater, and had associates’ cars parked on the high end of the kayak-adventure parking lot off Kuamo‘o Road.

“It happened pretty quickly,” said Karen Wood, mother of Nathan Wood. “At one point, the water was waist-deep. We moved a lot of the supplies to the Puhi lot.”

Fig Mitchell, vice principal at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School, had his pickup laden with household goods from one of the families evacuated from the river-bank area. He stopped to check on the well-being of the employees using vacuums and squeegees to clear their warehouse.

“We gotta do the good-neighbor thing,” Mitchell said. “These people all had to evacuate, so we’re just helping.”

Phil Wood emerged from the building.

“At least I got a doughnut,” he said. “Travis — he’s the next generation Wood — is the hero. He even got boxes of Girl Scout cookies.”

The National Weather Service said that at 5:17 p.m. Friday, radar indicated just a few showers moving over Kaua‘i from the east, but water levels in streams and rivers remained dangerously high, and Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of the Hanalei Bridge remained closed. On Saturday, traffic was still reduced to one lane, according to county officials.

The trough that created the unsettled weather over the past few days was expected to weaken through the weekend and lessen the chances of heavy showers. However, trade winds will continue to deliver passing clouds and showers, especially to windward areas, into this week.

Nearly nine inches of rain fell on Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale during the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Friday, 5.5 inches at Kilohana Crater, and 6.36 inches at the North Wailua Ditch.

  1. LAVERNE C CORPUZ February 19, 2021 6:20 pm Reply

    I am so saddened about the Wailua River Banks overflowing. Hoomana Thrift Shop just had a Re Grand opening. I hope rain and attempted flooding will diminish soon and that no damage is done to Hoomana and other neighboring homes and businesses!

    1. Help Hoomana Thrift Store February 20, 2021 12:17 pm Reply

      Hoomana Thrift Store is underwater again. After a gargantuan effort to clean up following the last flood they are flooded again. Kauai, please stop at Hoomana (corner of Kuhio HWY and Kuamoo Rd.) and ask what you can do to help. Donate time or money and help this store which has provided for all of us for years and which has facilitated the entry of hundreds of disadvantaged people into the employment mainstream through their tireless efforts. Anyone in construction might consider how to raise the flooring onto higher ground!

  2. curious dog February 20, 2021 9:15 am Reply

    Why no dredging at the Wailua river mouth prior in order to relocate sand so that it isn’t blocking the exit of water? This was totally foreseeable….What a shame not to have equipment &/or foresight.

  3. Wil Welsh February 20, 2021 12:19 pm Reply

    I enjoy The Garden Island coverage, but sure get tired of seeing the same old “off-island content fillers” From the Web that don’t change and have been available on numerous other sites, sometimes for months, before appearing on this site. How about a daily change of news and items from other places–or skip them altogether and focus on what you do best–report on the Garden Island news.

  4. Numilalocal February 20, 2021 7:57 pm Reply

    Didn’t DOT Highways dump all that sand beneath the old bridge? Is that what caused the flooding because the water couldn’t drain to the ocean more quickly? Maybe someone should ask the state.

  5. Makaala February 21, 2021 9:25 am Reply

    I heard they dumped all that sand there or left it there because a couple of supports that hold up that bridge are actually floating, so the sand was to stabilize the bridge. I don’t know if its true but seems to make sense as to why they haven’t dredged the sand around the river mouth…

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