Classes canceled after high winds damage Windward Oahu school

Classes canceled after high winds damage Windward Oahu school
Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 8:49 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2015 at 4:54 AM HST
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Image: DOE
Image: DOE

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Keolu Elementary in Windward Oahu will not be in session on Tuesday after a portion of its cafeteria roof blew off in gusty winds on Monday afternoon.

According to the Department of Education, the incident occurred at 11:40 a.m. while first and second graders, approximately 50 students, were in the dining hall at the time. The cafeteria was evacuated and the rest of the students were served lunch in their classrooms. No one was injured. The Honolulu Fire Department was called to the school for initial assistance.

"When our lower grades were in the cafeteria, the students heard a crack and it was a ceiling...some debris fell down, nothing that would hurt anybody but it was definitely a large crack," said Keolu school Principal Gay Kong. "Then at that same time, the roof started to blow off. So between that crack and hearing that noise, it was quite scary."

“The strong winds are unpredictable at this point and until we can ensure that the campus is safe for everyone, Keolu will be closed,” said Suzanne Mulcahy, complex area superintendent for the Kailua-Kalaheo complex area.

Keolu Elementary is a kindergarten through sixth grade school with 145 total students.

"Before they called the fire department, the thing collapsed and all of the stuff was flying towards our classrooms," explained 4th grader Mehana Reis.

Department of Education Facilities crews were unable secure the damaged area and clear the debris due to the ongoing wind gusts that made it unsafe. They will return tomorrow morning to clean up and assess the damage.

The high winds also caused disruptions in other areas of the Kailua-Kalaheo complex area. Mulcahy noted that A+ and other activities were canceled on Monday at Pope Elementary and Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate due to the windy conditions. Both Pope and Waimanalo will be in session on Tuesday the 10th.

It was non-stop for emergency crews all over the windward side of Oahu.

Another roof was ripped apart at a Kaneohe business, that led to a water outage at the Honda Windward Autobody & Repair Center and a neighboring one.

"A gust of wind blew (and) I heard a flapping sound like a piece of wood hit the metal,” says Josh Ocariza who works at the shop, “It was coming down… and it stopped when it hit the pipe and that's when all the water started to shoot out."

The section of roof that blew off rested on top of the water pipe which plumbers had to repair to get the water flowing again.

Honolulu Firefighters used a ladder truck to help secure another, 30-foot section that also came undone by the strong winds.

While Hawaii News Now was interviewing HFD Battalion Chief Jeff Sanchez, a gust almost blew him off his feet.

"Mostly for blown roofs, downed trees on the highway, arcing wires,” says Sanchez.

So many trees snapped, instead of picking every one up, workers just had to move them off to the side of the roads so cars could pass.

But a downed utility pole on Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo forced Honolulu Police to shut down access while crews could make repairs.

Toppled poles and downed lines caused power outages in parts of Kaneohe, Kailua, Waimanalo and Kahaluu.

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