Landslides, floods, air rescues ongoing on Kauai


Editor’s Note: This post focuses on the storm and flooding that occurred on Kauai. Click here for KHON2’s coverage of the cleanup and rescue operations that followed.

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Air rescue operations continued on the north shore of Kauai in response to the weekend’s heavy rain and severe flooding.

As of 12:45 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service reported that Hanalei experienced over 27 inches of rain over the past 24 hours.

Dozens of homes were flooded or damaged in Hanalei, Wainiha, Haena, and Anahola.

One resident we spoke with says they are used to a lot of rain in the area, but this weekend’s flash flooding was scary.

“Before we knew it, it was to the roof of our vehicles, to the top of them,” said Kalihiwai Valley resident Kauma Anahata. “Our outside building had been just destroyed. The one blue Jeep just floated out of our carport. By then, the water was at least six feet high, and it’s like a raging river now, and we’re up on the stilts of our bamboo home just getting scared because there’s no way out at this point.”

The Kauai Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center has been activated since early Saturday morning and is continuing to partner with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army, and the Honolulu Fire Department to support the ongoing search and rescue operations on the North Shore.

“We’re doing a full on assessment and response — assess and respond as quickly as we can,” said Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “We tried to do it by land, but of course, you know because of the landslide, when you try to correct the problem, then more things start coming down the hillside, so we have to be careful with that for the safety of our workers of course, and for the safety of our people.”

Both on-duty and off-duty emergency personnel have performed a number of rescues and evacuations since Saturday night. The exact number of rescues are not yet known and no major injuries have been reported at this time.

Road Closures

The state Department of Transportation and the county Public Works Roads Division continue to work to clear landslides and debris that have occurred in multiple locations between Kalihiwai and Wainiha.

Officials are also reporting the following road closures:

  • Weke Road in the vicinity of Black Pot Beach due to a sinkhole;
  • Severe erosion closed the mauka portion of Kahiliholo Road at Kalihiwai Ridge;
  • Kuhio Highway, between Waikoko and Wainiha, due to multiple landslides;
  • Hanalei Plantation Road in Princeville due to a sinkhole.

The Kapaa Bypass Road was closed for roughly two hours due to flooding but has since been reopened. Kuhio Highway near the Wailua Golf Course, and Kuhio Highway at Kahiliholo Road was also closed Sunday morning due to flooding but has since been fully reopened.

For updates on road conditions and closures, please call 241-1725. Please do not call Kauai police 911 unless you have an emergency.

A view overlooking Hanalei on Kauai's north shore. Provided by: Tayler Rex. 

Power Outages and Water Service

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative restored power in the Kalaheo-Lawai area.

Extended outages are continuing from Hanalei to Haena.

The Department of Water (DOW) announced a water service outage for Haena, Wainiha and some Hanalei customers until further notice.

The county is deploying crews to assess and attempt to reestablish power and water service to homes.

Affected customers are advised to collect rain water to use for non-potable water needs.

The water conservation notice from Princeville Utilities Co., Inc. continues for all its customers in Princeville, Anini Vista, Kalihiwai Bay Estates, Kapaka Road and Hanalei Plantation Road.

Severe inclement weather has affected the emergency repairs response to the well which will result in depletion of the storage tank supply. There is currently no available timeline for water service restoration or service repairs at this time due to the inaccessibility of the area. 

Shelters and School Closures

The American Red Cross has closed a shelter at Koloa Elementary School, and school will commence today. An evacuation shelter remains open at Hanalei Elementary School and the Church of the Pacific in Princeville. The shelter at Kapaa Middle School has been closed.

The Department of Education has announced that Hanalei Elementary School will be closed on Monday, April 16. No school buses will be operating for students residing in Hanalei, Wainiha, or Haena who attend Kapaa Middle and Kapaa High School.

In response to the devastation, Carvalho has signed an emergency proclamation.

“We are working with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the Governor’s Office, the Coast Guard, and other partners to respond to the immediate safety needs for the people in the hardest-hit area between Hanalei and Haena,” said Carvalho “This morning, we will be working to assess the extent of the damage that occurred throughout the night. For now, we are urging people to stay off the roadway.  Shelter in place in a safe location or evacuate to higher ground if you are in a flood-prone area.”

“This is one of the critical situations we have in a long, long time,” Carvalho told KHON2. “The water and the flooding and the landslides one, two, three, four. I mean just all along — heavy rain. We haven’t experienced heavy rain like this is a short period of time, and so that has been very difficult for us to deal with right now, but with the teamwork and the people at the table, we’re addressing it one step at a time.”

Emergency proclamation issued

Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation for the County of Kauai.

“We’ve mobilized to assist Mayor Carvalho and his emergency management team. The Hawaii Guard and the City and County of Honolulu are preparing to help Kauai with search and rescue operations as crews continue to clear the roadway.”

The proclamation authorizes the expenditure of state monies as appropriated for the speedy and efficient relief of damages caused by this weather event.

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