‘It happened so fast’: Landslide sends wall of mud, debris into Palolo family’s home

Torrential rains triggered a landslide in Palolo Valley on Monday night, forcing a family of 10 to flee.
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 3:22 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2021 at 6:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Torrential rains triggered a landslide in Palolo Valley on Monday night, forcing a family of 10 to flee and prompting concerns about the integrity of a road above their home.

It happened near the intersection of Keaolele Place and Waiomau Road.

The National Weather Service confirms the area received upwards of 9 inches of rain over a 24-hour period Monday into Tuesday.

From above, you can see where a wall of water took mud, trees and debris straight through the center of that house.

“This is a lot better than last night,” said homeowner Soosun Choe.

Inside, there was mud at least 6 inches deep on the floor. Windows were shattered and a tree was jutting into the dining room.

“Those were our stairs,” said Choe, pointing to an open room near the front door. “They came right through the window.”

Choe says her family was getting ready for bed just before 10 p.m. when they heard a rumble.

“Oh it was raining furiously,” she said. “It’s kind of really loud thunder. And a crash.”

That noise were the trees above her house being uprooted and swept away by what she described as an unstoppable waterfall.

“It happened so fast. We were just trying to shovel the mud and the water out,” said Choe.

A neighbor who has lived in this Palolo Valley community all her life says she’d never seen anything like it. “Like over our wall in sheets,” said Linda Saito.

She says police were going door-to-door asking residents to grab the essentials and prepare in case they needed to evacuate.

“I was like OK, we had to get our meds. Some kind of clothing. Our personal items, documents. Things we might need,” she said. “We were just panicking because we never had to do this before.”

Firefighters told Choe and her family they did have to go.

“We stayed at a hotel in Waikiki,” she said.

On Tuesday, a stream of water was still being funneled down the cliffside through the Choe’s carport. “I’m really concerned about the safety of the road above my home,” she said.

The storm left the guard rail dangling.

Waiomau Road is still open to traffic. Choe wonders if it’s structurally sound.

“I think it’s really dangerous,” she said. “If that road gives way it doesn’t just effect our house it effects everybody that lives up above us.”

The city confirms engineers and inspectors were on sight Tuesday and that a temporary barrier was set up until permanent repairs can be completed.

A GoFundMe has been started to help the family. To donate, click here.

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