HONOLULU (KHON2) — A homeowner in Kaimuki said two people popped out of a storm manhole within his property, this incident happened as concerned residents in the area said they are noticing more people in canals around the neighborhood. 

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The City said people emerging from a manhole remains an extremely uncommon situation, but City engineers believe the individuals who emerged from the manhole on the private property gained access through the Waialae major drain channel, not far from the homeowner’s location. 

A concerned resident who wished to remain anonymous said she has noticed more people in the channel, she wishes more police presence in her neighborhood.

She said, “Not totally unexpected just because I feel like the neighborhood has been a little bit more unsafe than in years past.”

Engineers with the City said the drain system pipes near drainage channels range between 36 and 48 inches, and it is possible for people to crawl through them. 

Although the City does not usually receive complaints from people emerging from a manhole. 

What is not usual, are reports of people traversing through or even encampments within the streams. 

The Institute for Human Services Executive Director Connie Mitchell said there are several reasons why people may be in a canal or stream. She said some individuals may use them as shelter or as a way to be out of the public eye, as there have been incidents where houseless individuals are attacked. 

“We have seen it,” Mitchell said. “There are people that do traverse some of the waterways and it’s you know we’ve seen it on the canals and it isn’t something that is like widely known necessarily.”

There are signs of people who have been inside the canal in the Kahala and Kaimuki area, such as food containers or plastic material tied to pipes, most likely used by people trying to pull themselves out of the stream. 

Mitchell said, “When they emerge and they are on the streets, because we do see them coming out of some of those encampments, we certainly reach out to them you know to see what kind of needs they have and whether we can help.”

She said the best thing neighbors can do is report this type of activity, the IHS has programs that may help. 

But the bigger message is to stay out of the storm drains, flash floods can be deadly if people are caught in a stream. 

Mitchell said, “In the past, we’ve had people swept up to sea.”

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The City said it is looking to install a strap to anchor the manhole cover to the frame, to give the Kaimuki homeowner peace of mind, but still give access to City crews when needed.