HALEIWA, Hawaii (KHON2) — Businesses and homes in Haleiwa were inundated by floodwaters during the afternoon of Tuesday, March 9. Many residents said they kept getting flash flood warnings sent to their phones but that it is normal to get them when rainy conditions are present.
There was a light drizzle in Haleiwa when a different alert was sent to their phones around 4:30 p.m.
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“I dropped off my kids on Paalaa Road at their friends house, and my phone went off and I looked and it said evacuate immediately, and it said Weed Circle to Paalaa Road, and I was like ‘oh my gosh, we have to go,’ so I went home and grabbed my husband, got the kids in the car, grabbed our emergency kit, and a change of clothes and headed up the hill,” explained Haleiwa resident Bailey Oliveira.
“It took us 15 minutes and by the time we were up the hill the water was already coming in our yard,” Oliveira said.
Her neighbor Carolina De Medeiros recalls a similar situation.
“Then an alert finally came in where it says ‘your life’s in danger, you need to leave the house now from Weed Circle,’ which is the area we’re at,” she said. “So we just grabbed our kids, we grabbed the laptop, the dogs and just got in the car.”
She said, nearby neighbors who have lived there for decades and have lived through flooding in that area told De Medeiros to turn off their electricity before they left. She and her husband put sandbags by the doors and then left.
“It wasn’t even really raining when we left, it didn’t look like the damage that was going to happen was going to happen,” she said. “I have medication that I’m supposed to take for my autoimmune disease, I didn’t even think to get it. I was just thinking about getting my kids and my dog out of there.”
De Medeiros has not been able to get the COVID-19 vaccine and falls under the high-risk category for catching the virus. She has been homeschooling her kids this entire year and opened up her homeschooling area in their basement.
She started to see drone images on social media of her home. “It just looked like it was in the middle of the river, my husband’s truck was underwater, just everything looked like it was underwater and we couldn’t get to it to assess the damage,” she said.
Her husband went back to the house around 11 p.m. and said the water in the basement was about four feet deep.
“It almost swept him out when he opened the door and our fences were gone, our potted plants were gone, the carport was gone,” she said. “Everything inside the house looked like it was hit by an earthquake mixed with a flood everything was knocked over and the floor was underwater.”
“Our entire downstairs is our homeschool classroom because I homeschool my kids because of my health condition, they can’t be around other people because I might get sick, and it was just all gone, there was nothing that could be salvaged, it was all destroyed,” she said.
De Medeiros is also a troop leader for Girl Scouts and had thousands of dollars’ worth of cookies in the basement as well, “now our troop is responsible for it.”
“It’s just hard to wrap my head around everything, the community support has been absolutely amazing,” she added. “Just so many people I don’t even know are calling and they’re writing and they’re at our house now and there are just trucks and trucks of people just helping clear all the debris all around,” she said of the North Shore community support.
“I feel like we had 15 minutes, which wasn’t enough to do anything but just grab our kids and our pets, so I keep going back like I should have grabbed this or I should have done that, but there was no time to do any of it,” she said.
“We rent and our landlord has containers across the property, they ended up across the street, there was gas leaks everywhere. It was just really surreal environment and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around all the damage and everything,” she said.
The shipping containers ended up floating towards the Ayonon’s yard.
The Ayonon’s said they heard a loud boom and the stream started rushing towards their home. They said, they had about 15 minutes to evacuate once the warning was sent out.
“We packed all our stuff and we started going and I was passing Long Bridge on Haleiwa Road and the river was super high, and I was thinking, ‘oh no,’” explained Kaitlin Ayonon.
She said, they returned to grab an air mattress and some other items in case the house flooded 15 minutes after leaving their home, but it was too late. Police had blocked off the road by their house and a river was flowing through the bottom of their home — along with a shipping container,
She pointed to a plumeria tree that somewhat stopped the container from floating closer to their home.
“If this tree wasn’t here, it would have come and hit the house,” she said. “I mean the container took out the whole fence, and our neighbors’ fence, it could have been way worse.”
The Ayonon’s lost their washer, dryer couch, personal family items like photos, an Xbox and many more items.
The North Shore community came together to assist flood victims with thousands of donations coming through today.
To see how you can help flood victims click here.
To assist De Medeiros and her ohana, click here.