Heavy rain floods Kapahulu garage

Cy Mukawa
Cy Mukawa

By Ramsay Wharton – bio | email

KAPAHULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "Everytime it rains like this, hard, it floods our garage and we just have to take precautionary measures by moving out our cars so we don't get flooded," said Cy Mukawa standing in a flooded garage of 707 Palani Ave in Kapahulu.

Since Saturday, the rain has been consistently falling along the small avenue that runs between Kapahulu Avenue and Date Street. Residents blame a shortage of storm drains as part of the problem creating a back up of water which flows into area properties, in particular, down into the underground open garage area that's shared by four units at 707 Palani Avenue.

Mukawa said the storm drain is below the property. "And when it floods," said Mukawa. "All the water comes into here (garage), and it's like a swimming pool, because we're surrounded by concrete." Other properties across the street and next door have also experienced flooding from the storm drain problem, with just one drain to feed the one diamond head side of Palani Avenue.

A roughly two foot water marks lined the garage walls after waters subsided and was visible around 9:00 o'clock Tuesday morning. This flooding is nothing new for the four families who live here. They have been dealing with this problem for the past 15 years, every since the property was built.

"Oh this is not bad. This is nothing," said Mukawa. "It comes up to your knees. We're only at ankle high right now."

The reason the 707 Palani Avenue residents say it's nothing, is because back in 2006 when Oahu suffered through 40 days of rain, the flood waters were waist deep high and up past the water heater pipes attached to the garage wall. It ruined the water heater and the air conditioning unit nearby after flood waters seeped into the large fans. There were even a dozen dead fish floating in the water.

Overall, one resident estimates the association for 707 Palani Avenue has spent about $10,000 in repairs and to address the flood problem, including, installing a sump pump to help drain the standing water. But according to Mukawa, the pump drains into the storm drain, and when that's full, the water has no place to go.

Within 15 minutes of arriving on the scene today, I could hear the water rushing down the storm drain, and then, just as the property owners said, it filled up and water quickly rose up to the sidewalk, filled up the driveway and prepared to head back down, into the garage area.

Honolulu firefighters responded to the scene to assist with pumping out the flood waters. But residents said, after carrying out a 15 year old girl so she could get to school, HFD crews left because they weren't able to assist since the sump pump was working properly.

Frustrated residents though say their water battle may finally be slowing to a trickle. After years of complaints to City officials and local lawmakers, the City has finally approved a roughly $1.4 million installation of another storm drain for Palani Avenue. But residents say, they just don't know when that will happen.

"They (City officials) said they would start this year," said Mukawa. "But then they said no, not yet. We don't know."

Residents say they're waiting for the City to complete an environmental assessment before it moves forward with the drainage work that will also require the newly paved Palani Avenue, completed last year, to be torn up.

One resident who wished to remain anonymous, said he complained to city officials that they shouldn't fix the road until the future drainage work but he said officials went ahead anyway, spending the money, knowing the drainage work may be soon to follow.

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