Record-breaking rains flooded roads and closed highways. A look at what happened and preparations for more wet weather

Local News

Conditions on the H-1 Freeway are back to normal Wednesday, but Tuesday night was a much different story. The west bound direction of H-1 between the School Street overpass and the Liliha Street overpass was under roughly three feet of water.

The question is if more heavy rains hit Wednesday night, will the State be ready?

The torrential rain caused major problems across Oahu. It came down so hard along the Pali Highway debris fell from one of the same spots it did in February, an area protected with a mesh barrier held down by 12 inch spikes.

“Last night there was so much water that came through the slope that it blew out three sections of those spikes and water was able to come down and wash some material down,” Ed Sniffen, DOT Deputy Director of Highways said.

Sniffen explained that the debris was minimal, mostly small rocks and soil. But it was enough that the Pali didn’t reopen for  the Wednesday morning contraflow. 

“We re-matted the slope we put in six-foot anchors in there just to make sure that there was enough capacity to make sure that those mats will not be removed again,” Sniffen explained.

The repairs took most of the day but the Pali Highway reopened at 4p.m. for the afternoon contraflow and Sniffen said it would resume normal contraflow hours Thursday morning.

Another problem area, H-1 west bound near the Liliha Street overpass. It looked more like a river than a highway.

Sniffen said that fixes the DOT made after H-1 flooded in 2016 during tropical storm Darby worked, but loose dirt from a nearby construction site clogged the drains.

“To ensure that doesn’t happen again, we talk to the contractor about removing all of the soils, all of the materials that could potentially be washed out of that side, to ensure that if there’s another storm event tonight that’s not going to reoccur.”

Sniffen said crews checked drains and shored-up other areas along Nimitz Highway and other roadways to prepare for the next bout of wet weather.

Businesses were also impacted by the flooding.

Ahmad Yu, President of Sun Noodle, said Colburn Street where his business is located in Kalihi constantly floods but last night was exceptionally bad.

“Nights we get to that type of rain, how it was last night, there’s no way we can stop the water,” Yu said.

Though most of the floodwater has subsided outside of his shop, he said that at one point last night the water came almost two feet, reaching the top of a concrete slab fronting his shop.

“This is the worst that we’ve seen well I have seen so far over the last three years.”

Yu said he had to throw out about $10,000 of ingredients that were ruined from the flood waters. He and his workers are already preparing for the next round of rain.

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