In Hawaii Kai, a close call with disaster triggers relief — and reflection

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least 15 kupuna had to evacuate their apartments in the Hawaii Kai Retirement community on Kawaihae Street after part of the complex was hit by a flash flood Friday night.

"We heard a tremendous noise. A huge noise," said Patrick Roberts.

Torrential rains triggered a massive landslide at the mauka end of the property blocking a nearby drainage ditch. That caused the run-off to cut a path through the several homes.

"My wife looked out the window and said we got a river coming by," said Roberts.

In seconds, water was pouring in through the side of the door in his kitchen.

"You don't think.You just react," said Roberts. "As soon as you throw a towel down. It's all soaked up. You can't stop it. There's no way to stop it."

Roberts and his wife were among  at least 15 residents who live at the retirement community that were displaced by the storm.

"We had about seven cottages that had about three feet of standing water and several apartments that were affected," said general manager Michael Weider. "We're really lucky no one was injured."

Within an hour of the disaster staff started relocating residents to other units while clean-up efforts began.

On Monday, the majority of the mud inside Roberts home was gone and contractors were preparing to repair the drywall. But on the outside reminders of Friday's storm won't be so easily erased.

"When you reflect back on what happened that's when the emotions definitely start getting to you," said Roberts. "You're that close. If it hadn't gone just that way, there's a good chance it would have gone through us."

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