HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials said Opae’ula Stream reached its highest levels in nearly 50 years during Tuesday’s flash flood, which prompted the sudden evacuation of Haleiwa Town.
County emergency officials closely monitored stream gauges alongside forecasters at the National Weather Service. The sudden spike in water levels was more than enough reason to sound alarms, sending people fleeing for higher ground.
Hydrologist Kevin Kodama issued the catastrophic flooding alert, which is the highest warning level possible.
The last notable time the stream caused a deadly flood was in 1974.
”Several homes were destroyed and there were some lives lost because a home was washed out to sea. So the levels that we were seeing exceeded that 1974 flood event. So I called the department of emergency management right away,” Kodama said.
Emergency management responded quickly, getting the word out to evacuate.
“Flooding can be a life-threatening situation. So as much as we can, we want to move people out of there,” City Department of Emergency Management Director Hiro Toiya said.
“We don’t want to move people unnecessarily, but we believed — based on the information that we had yesterday, the assessment from the weather service and input from first responders — the best course of action was to move people out of there as much as we can,” he added.
The national weather service will be keeping a close eye on areas throughout the state affected by rain. The threat for heavy rain will linger over the coming days.
Officials worry that because with the ground is already heavily saturated, it wouldn’t take much for more problems to occur.