PUNALUU, Hawaii (KHON2) — There is severe road damage on Kamehameha Highway after a massive water main break in Punaluu on Friday, June 24.
Crews are also working to fix several broken water mains from Kualoa to Punaluu.
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There was a scary moment for one driver who found herself sinking into a sinkhole — her car came close to being submerged. Good Samaritans came to her rescue, however.
The sheer size of the sinkhole makes it hard to miss. The car that went into it was removed and the driver is safe and sound but it is going to be a while before Kamehameha Highway in Punaluu looks anything like it used to.
“Flooding, so I didn’t really know what was happening and then I came out, I walked to my gate and then I looked and I saw over here, there was like water gushing out,” said Sasha Phillip, a Punaluu resident.
Sasha and her brother Simon did not think twice about which direction to run when they saw that a 30-inch main break had opened up a sinkhole.
“A car was driving and then stopped and started to burn rubber because they started tilting sideways,” Simon said. “I wasn’t like taking a video, but I saw the car start to tilt, and then we like started running.”
The driver was able to get out of the car without injuries. Her purse, wallet and phone were still in the car, however.
“Well she was confused,” Sasha said. “Cause she thought she was just like stuck in a puddle or something and she didn’t realize she was like tipping into the hole.”
Several events may have caused the situation in Punaluu, according to the Board of Water Supply, beginning with a struck fire hydrant in Kualoa.
“It set off a bit of a chain of events where then we had several other fire hydrants develop leaks, and then it developed what we call a water hammer, which is where pressure builds up in the pipe,” said BWS Public Information Officer Kathleen Pahinui.
The water hammer caused the burst pipe in Punaluu, as well as several smaller breaks down to Kualoa.
“I expect the smaller ones will get repaired relatively quickly,” Pahinui said, “the 30-inch is going to take a little bit longer, that’s why I say we’re definitely going to be there through today and probably most of tomorrow is what we anticipate.”
“We would expect intermittent water outages, but I don’t anticipate that the outages would be large,” Pahinui added.
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Kamehameha Highway is being contraflowed in the area until further notice.