Landslide forces the closure of Manoa Falls Trail - and rattles nerves

Dangerous landslide closes Manoa Falls Trail
Published: Sep. 22, 2018 at 1:12 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 22, 2018 at 9:33 AM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources closed Manoa Falls Trail Friday evening after a 100-foot landslide brought down trees and boulders at the upper pool of the trail.

The slide happened around 5:30 p.m. and triggered a search and rescue operation — but luckily, no hikers were reported injured.

"We did find some hikers but the landslide may have occurred sometime earlier. So, I'm not sure if the hikers were even in the vicinity when it happened," said Honolulu Fire Department Battalion Chief Debbi Eleneki.

It's the latest in a series of recent landslides that have residents worried about their safety and the possibility of losing their homes during the next round of heavy rains. Just last month, the trail was closed for rockfall mitigation near the waterfall viewing area.

"There seems to be rescues from there on a regular basis even on a good day," said Ellen Watson, who has lived in Manoa for 15 years. Watson also sits on the neighborhood board and lives directly below a landslide that happened after then Hurricane Lane passed Oahu.

"I was concerned but not so much of the slide happening to begin with after Hurricane Lane, but I was concerned about the water that would run down there with Tropical Storm Olivia," said Watson.

Manoa valley is a mixture of private and public lands. Watson says she (and many of the people she represents) would like to see all the land above homes be managed by the state.

"One of the things that our board was actively participating in, was trying to get this land back into conservation land. It's conservation land," said Watson.

While the major slide above her home is worrisome, she's more concerned about what might happen to the neighborhood during the next big storm.

"What do I do if water comes rushing down so fast and so furious from this mountain into my house and rushes into these neighbor's homes? Where do we go? Because if there's a lot of wind and the trees fall on a Oahu Avenue and University Avenue, we can't get to the Stevenson Middle School. It's the only shelter that's open. We're stuck in the valley," said Watson.

DLNR crews will be out on the Manoa Falls trail Saturday morning to survey the landslide and determine when hikers will be allowed back in.

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