Big Island braces for possible flooding from Felicia's showers

Charles Spain
Charles Spain
Anela Vares
Anela Vares

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HILO, Hawaii (KHNL) - As of Monday night, there was a slight change in plans for Tropical Storm Felicia. Earlier in the day, Felicia's showers were expected to hit the Big Island Monday night thru early Tuesday morning.

But at Hilo Bay Monday night, it was still quiet. Only a few light showers, on and off, and the winds were fairly light as well.

An update in the evening from Big Island Civil Defense showed that because Felicia has weakened, the storm isn't expected to hit the Big Island until Tuesday morning.

Highway 11 is among the flood-prone areas that Big Island Civil Defense is keeping an eye on.

The highway crosses several dry gulches, and if any of them overflow, that could mean danger to cars and nearby homes.

"A lot of debris on the road, sometimes people's fences and stone walls get knocked down and all the rocks end up on the road," said Charles Spain, a Hilo resident who's lived near one of the gulches the past 14 years.

"I feel very confident now that they've cleared it out, I think it was about a year ago that they cleared it out. I feel even more comfortable that it won't overflow," said Anela Vares, a Hilo resident who also lives off Highway 11, right next to one of the gulches.

Big Island Civil Defense is hoping winds will drop to 20 to 25 miles per hour, to minimize the risk of power outages.

That seems to be the biggest concern among folks we spoke with here.

Also, as of Monday night, Big Island schools will remain open Tuesday.

Another area Big Island Civil Defense is eyeing is the Bayfront area, which is notorious for chronic flooding.

In fact, there's an abandoned shell station there, near Kamehameha and Pauahi, that closed down because the area keeps flooding whenever heavy storms pass through.

"When it floods, this whole area is underwater. It's like a lake and there's a canal, you can't see it from here but just behind the coconut trees, there's debris all over the fields. Even the roads get closed because it's like a swimming pool, it gets really bad," said Kimi Brown, a Hilo resident.

County officials say sometimes, the flooding gets so severe, cars end up stalling, and some even float away.

So drivers are advised to be careful when maneuvering around the Bayfront area, as well as other areas prone to flooding.