HONOLULU (KHON2) — City officials are sharing a safety message with the public, stay out of the city’s storm drain system. This comes after a homeowner claims two strangers suddenly popped up out of a manhole on their property.
It is not a typical complaint to the city, a homeowner in Kaimuki said he was in his garage around 8:30 a.m. when he started to hear noises coming from his backyard.
The residents wished to remain anonymous but told KHON2 News a man and a woman emerged from the storm manhole located on their private property.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s Deputy Communications Director Ian Scheuring said this is the first incident of its kind they have received. They are taking the matter seriously.
“Storm drains are not places where people should be hanging out or traversing from one location to the next,” Scheuring said. “We do have an easement to access that storm drain manhole cover, and what the department of facility maintenance did was simply weld that manhole cover shut while we can explore a more permanent solution a locked sort of access point.”
The homeowner said he also called the Honolulu Police Department and filed a first-degree trespassing report. He also contacted his neighborhood board.
The Kaimuki Neighborhood Board Chair Brian Kang said he had not heard of similar past incidents, but he is now expecting to include it in next month’s meeting agenda. He said these types of reports are not taken lightly.
Kang said, “Obviously it’s a public safety issue all around, it’s a concern for the property owners but it’s also a concern I think safety for individuals accessing these.”
Meanwhile, a statement from Council Chair Tommy Waters calls on the city and HPD to conduct inspections of drainage canals in the neighborhood and take necessary enforcement.
Part of a statement said:
“Department of Facility Maintenance is currently exploring the installation of a locking mechanism. This will provide access for city personnel should the need arise, such as for debris removal, addressing blockages in the storm drain line, or conducting future inspections. Yesterday, we submitted a request to the mayor’s office, requesting the HPD to inspect the drainage canals in the vicinity and take necessary enforcement measures for public safety.”
Scheuring said there are also safety concerns for the individuals entering storm drains.
“We talk about flash flooding in places like hiking trails, that’s one thing, but storm drains are designed to take that water so they can be very dangerous places,” Scheuring said. “I want to make sure that we dissuade anybody from ever wanting to go into a storm drain for any reason.”
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An HPD spokesperson said police were not able to locate the two people who emerged from the manhole.