Waiakea Elementary among several Hawaii island schools damaged by Lane


On Hawaii island, as many as 200 homeowners and businesses have requested aid because of storm damage.

Over the past few days, we’ve been visiting with homeowners whose properties got flooded.

Waiakea Elementary School in Hilo just started the new school year, and now they’re having to take everything out.

A teacher came in to find her classroom flooded Saturday morning, and called the principal.

“This room was soaked. That room was soaked, and these two rooms were the worst,” said principal Ken Watanabe. “I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Building A is now drying out. Four kindergarten classes, a special education class, and a preschool class are now displaced.

“This was our preschool room. When we came in, we saw water from just wall to wall, a layer of water that just sheened across the whole floor,” Watanabe said.

Watanabe says he’s not sure where the water came from.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We have engineers here, but we’re suspecting it came from that doorway,” he said. “There’s a hill in the back, so we suspect it came down the hill and flowed right through the building.”

The kindergarten classes are now having to double up. Instead of 21 kids in a class, they’ll now have 42 kids per class, with two teachers having to share the same room.

The school has about 150 kindergarten students, and it’s going to be a while until the kids and teachers can move back in to Building A.

“We’re hoping best-case scenario a month to two months, but if they find mold in the walls, this could be a couple of months,” said East Hawaii complex area superintendent Chad Keone Farias.

Waiakea Elementary School has the most damage, but some other public schools in East Hawaii also got flooded.

“Hilo Intermediate’s shop took a hit. So did Hilo High School’s main building, one of those old architecturally beautiful buildings,” Farias said. “Keeau High School Building G had some cleanup and recovery in the classrooms.”

“We’re doing the best we can to keep the students calm and return them back to normalcy,” Watanabe said.

Despite some flooding damage, all public schools on Hawaii island reopened Monday.

Some county facilities will be closed until further notice due to damage caused by Lane:

  • Puueo Community Center, 145 Wainaku Street, Hilo
  • Carvalho Park and Piihonua Gymnasium, 850 Waianuenue Avenue, Hilo
  • Hilo Bayfront Soccer Fields

Once the facilities are repaired and safe for use, the public will be notified and the facilities will reopen.

Meanwhile on Monday, the rain continued on Hawaii island. This time it drenched the South Kohala and North Kona Districts with peak rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour.

Old Saddle Road was closed between Waikii and the Daniel K. Inouye Highway junction due to heavy runoff, but has since reopened.

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