Families Flee Breaching Waimanalo Reservoir

Waimanalo Reservoir
Waimanalo Reservoir

(KHNL) -- A downpour brought an end of the day and a half of sunny skies for those in Waimanalo, and sent dozens of families running from their homes.

Those families were forced to evacuate because a nearby reservoir breached, sending thousands of gallons of water rushing down streambeds, and flooding low-lying areas and streets.

"Lately we've been having so much rain and everything so saturated, that the ground really cannot handle anymore so the only outlet is on the surface," said Kim Kalama, who lives below the reservoir.

Shortly after 3 in the afternoon, firefighters say they were called, because the water was pouring over the concrete spillway.

"This whole area was full of water, maybe a foot or two below the top," said Capt. Ben Suiso, of HFD's Waimanalo Station. "This area we're standing on was like Niagra Falls going over."

"We did our phone tree calls to our neighbors to give them the report -- it's coming over," said Kalama.

Suiso said that was the right thing to do. He says firefighters continued to warn homes of the danger, but most of the people weren't home.

"Life safety is the most important thing," said Suiso. "Get your people out safely, you got any medication take it with you, cause anything else can be replaced, but lives cannot. So when in doubt evacuate."

Suiso said there were no reports of homes being damaged, and no injuries.

"Public awareness is there," he said. "Kauai had their problem with their dam and we got these dams that need to be taken care of and addressed and hopefully the right people can do the right things."

Kalama says the "right things" are to restore the reservoir, and start a dam safety and maintenance programs.

"Luckily we've been spared again, but there's only a limited time with the sparing of people," she said.