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Wailua gets flash flood for Christmas

WAILUA — A flash flood hit the mouth of the Wailua River early Christmas morning.

For an hour, more 30,000 gallons of muddy water carrying logs and debris flowed down the mountain and into the ocean every second, nearly a hundred times the river’s average output, according to U.S. Geological Survey statistics.

“It just came down so fast and hard,” Keone Miyake said Thursday afternoon, standing on the muddy banks of the Wailua River. “There was water all the way out to Coco Palms — the road. This whole area was like part of the river.”

Huge logs choked the spaces between the surface of the river and the Kuhio Highway overpasses. The river spilled over its banks, coating the land with thick brown silt yards above the normal waterline.

“This whole place was just mud,” he said, looking around. It was still covered in mud.

Miyake is head coach of the Pu‘uwai Outrigger Canoe Club. He went down to check on his canoes Wednesday morning and saw the damage. He has been working to clean up the area and hopes to have the park back in decent condition for the start of the upcoming high school paddling season.

Pu‘uwai hosts over a hundred teenagers from the Eastside, who come to the Wailua River to practice all year round. They count on him.

“We’re gonna have to get this place cleaned up so the clubs can come back,” he said, looking around. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

It’s not just the cleanup. Two of Pu‘uwai’s canoes got banged up and need to be repaired. Another got swept away. The double-hull canoe had belonged to the club since at least 1994. Miyake put up a post on social media, asking if anyone had seen it.

“I put it out on Facebook, and people started chiming back,” he said.

It turned up about a mile away on a beach behind Kintaro Japanese Restaurant, crushed under a giant log.

Some of the club members tried to pull it out from under the piles of logs that crushed its hull but finally decided it couldn’t be done without a chainsaw.

“That was a sad canoe to lose,” Miyake said. “It was good to us.”

Canoes are not cheap. Pu‘uwai’s annual fundraiser is coming up on Saturday, Jan. 4. Resolution Run Kauai is a 5k run that starts at 8 a.m. The course winds through the paths at Hokuala Resort in Lihue. Walkers and leashed dogs are welcome. Children under 12 race free with an adult.

“If anyone wants to donate, they can come and race,” he said.

All the money this year will go toward helping the club get back on its feet, but Miyake is not optimistic the run will generate enough funds for Pu‘uwai to replace its lost canoe.

He thought about setting up a GoFundMe account but didn’t feel right about asking for help when he knows other people are struggling, too.

“We didn’t want to ask too much,” he said. “But we totally need it.”

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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