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Swamped again

KAPA‘A — Heavy rain flooded many areas on east and north sides of Kaua‘i Friday night and Saturday morning, triggering a debris pile-up along the makai side of the Kuhio Highway Wailua River bridge and temporary road closures throughout the island.

According to the National Weather Service, Wailua had 7.33 inches of rain for the 24-hour period ending noon Saturday.

Homes flooded as well as waterways, and Kaua‘i first responders rescued a family of 20 trapped under their Wailua home on Apana Road Saturday morning after flash flooding occurred Friday night and Saturday morning.

After responding to an emergency phone call at 4:30 a.m., the family, which included eight children between the ages of 8 and 10, were transported by the County of Kaua‘i bus to Kapaʻa Middle School.

Another family in Wailua was trapped by the floods and transported into a shelter on Lanakila Road in Wailua Houselots to separate the two families because of social-distancing recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were no injuries or fatalities reported by either family, said to the Kaua‘i Police Department’s Roderick Green.

The rains caused an undetermined amount of partially treated wastewater to spill into the nearshore waters fronting Lydgate Park as well on Saturday. Warning signs were posted, and officials released an advisory for the public to remain out of the water until warning signs are removed in that area.

Brown-water advisories from the state Department of Health are also in effect. The public is reminded to stay out of brown water due to runoff from the recent rains.

Kuhio Highway near the Hanalei River was closed periodically during the downpour.

In Lihu‘e, county staff spent much of Saturday repairing street lights that were damaged in the storm. Repairs were made to traffic signals at the intersections of Rice Street at Ho‘olako and ‘Umi streets.

Green advised citizens to be mindful of social-distancing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has now killed over 30,000 people globally, according to World Health Organization statistics.

“The rain has complicated the COVID-19 situation, and we don’t want people to lose sight of the COVID-19 pandemic, but continue to be safe on all accounts,” Green said. “We want everyone to remain safe, and if you don’t have a reason to be on the road, stay at home.”

Celia Mahikoa, executive with the county Transportation Agency, said because they have reduced routes for essential travel only, they have more manpower to help law enforcement transport citizens in times of need.

“I am very grateful to serve and help,” Mahikoa said. “To serve the community the best way possible, it requires all of us to work together, take care of our personal needs and to minimize our outings for essential needs.”

“Our first responders assisted numerous lower Wailua residents from evacuating their flooded homes,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said when he addressed the county via social media in his daily message Saturday. “Cars were entirely underwater, and police are closing some roads due to high water.”

Kawakami urged people to be mindful of the CDC’s recommendations.

“Please stay safe because this flooding event is continuing, and it will be difficult to maintain social distancing during the flooding response,” Kawakami said midday Saturday. “Do everything you can do to remain aware during the COVID-19 pandemic and don’t let the virus spread between our residents.”

As of 6 p.m. on Saturday, the NWS flash-flood watch was set to expire at 6 a.m. today.

Significant rainfall totals for the 24-hour period ending 10 a.m. Saturday:

w Lihu‘e Airport: 5.74 inches; 5.22 inches falling in the 12-hour period ending 10 a.m. Saturday;

w ‘Oma‘o: 2.02 inches; 1.54 inches in the 12-hour period;

w Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale: 7.46 inches; 3.75 inches in the 12-hour period;

w Princeville Airport: 6.72 inches; 6.38 inches in the 12-hour period;

w Hanalei: 8.46 inches; 7.79 inches in the 12-hour period;

w Kapahi: 6.81 inches; 6.09 inches in the 12-hour period.
Source: The Garden Island

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