KAUAI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mike Laureta has lived along the Wailua River for 30 years and says this is worst flooding he’s ever seen in his quiet neighborhood.
“If this was a 50-year flood or a 100-year flood, this is it,” Laureta said Saturday as pointed out where raging water rushed through his yard night before.
The massive debris from upstream slammed into the Wailua Bridge, creating a makeshift dam. Then, the river began to swell into nearby properties.
Some people didn’t realize the extent of the flooding, since it happened overnight.
Ohana Street resident Kathleen Schmidt says she didn’t know her neighborhood was underwater until the firefighters showed up at her front door.
“When we walked outside there were other firemen in the street and the water was over their knees,” said Schmidt.
Kauai Police and Fire began evacuating people around 4:30 a.m. The county bus also helped transport evacuees to higher ground.
Officials say 20 people were taken to an emergency shelter at Kapaa Middle School.
The rain eventually stopped and the river receded, but parts of the island are still flooded.
By Saturday evening, the Kauai Community Correction Center was still inundated with muddy water.
And the 11th hole at the Wailua Golf course was a small patch of green amid a sea of brown water.
The south end of the Kapaa Bypass Road was closed to traffic, and businesses at the Coconut Marketplace were trying to dry out.
Those left cleaning up the mess from the storm hope to make some progress today, especially with the chance of more rain in the forecast.
“It took DOT like four or five days to clean the last flood just a couple of trees. That is going to take awhile," said Laureta as he pointed at the debris-filled Wailua River.