Windward Oahu residents dig out from flood aftermath - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Windward Oahu residents dig out from flood aftermath

Liko Hoe Liko Hoe
Tom Birchard Tom Birchard

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WINDWARD OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The sun was shining Sunday. But everywhere, there were signs of flooding and damage.

At Waiahole Stream, there were tree limbs and grass flattened by raging floodwaters. There also was a small green shed that housed the U.S. Geological Survey's gage for Waiahole Stream. The gage recorded the stream's height at just over 13 feet before waters ripped the shed off its foundation. It lay tipped over, about ten feet from where it stood.

Nearby, workers cleaned out mud from inside the Waiahole Poi Factory.

"In the building it got to about, I'd say, about two, two and a half feet," said the factory's Liko Hoe. "Water and mud."

Hoe said it was the highest floodwater he'd ever seen in the area. Overflow from the stream ripped asphalt from the sidewalk and toppled over dozens and dozens of potted plants at a nearby nursery.

"That's the cost of living next to the river, I guess," Hoe said. "But it's a beautiful place. This is how it is out here."

The heaviest rainfall was recorded overnight at the Punaluu Stream. Nearby, a ground-level studio was flooded out. Residents say the water rose very quickly.

"We were standing in the studio trying to get everything off the ground, watching the door, and then the water just came in," said neighbor Jason McMullen, "and after that, the whole floor was flooded, basically, within five minutes."

Farther south in Kahaluu, water was running under the Waihee Stream Bridge. But that wasn't the case last night.

"Water was coming over here," said resident Mike Sousa, pointing to an area of the roadway next to the bridge, "and this was just one judge flowing lake going through here and it just washed everything through. It was crazy."

Sousa has lived in a house near the stream for eight years. He pointed to grass that had been left along a fence by the floodwater, a good ten feet above the stream's usual height.

"You can see the water line right here," he said, pointing to the grass. "It pretty much was coming up and over this (wall), and actually coming up over the fence line over the lower section there."

Forecasters said the thunderstorms that have affected Hawaii lately might be attributable to La Nina, the weather phenomenon in which there's cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

The National Weather Service said last night's thunderstorms started near the Kahuku area, and then moved slowly south.

"That strong thunderstorm remained anchored to the terrain of the Koolaus, and we had record stream gage readings at both Kahana and Waihee Streams," said lead forecaster Tom Birchard.

Waihee Stream rose to 9.4 feet, well above the previous record of six feet. The Kahana Stream gage recorded a level of 10.1 feet, nearly a foot above the previous record.

Shortly after the Kahana Stream gage recorded that high level, it stopped sending data. Forecasters believe it was damaged by floodwater, or even swept away.

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