TALES FROM THE FLOOD

Record-set­ting rain­fall rat­tles nerves – and it’s not over yet

The Garden Island - - Front Page - Al­lan Para­chini

From Moloaa to Princeville on Sun­day, res­i­dents emerged from sleep­less nights with some of the heav­i­est rain on record on Kauai and thun­der so in­tense it shook houses as badly as a se­vere earth­quake.

Iron­i­cally, I’d spent Satur­day in a Kauai Fire De­part­ment train­ing ses­sion in Li­hue as a mem­ber of the Com­mu­nity Emer­gency Re­sponse Team (CERT).

Ev­ery year shortly be­fore hur­ri­cane sea­son, KFD sched­ules train­ing for us to re­fresh skills we may need in the com­ing months. Satur­day’s ses­sion was on traf­fic man­age­ment and crowd con­trol. The storm grew more in­tense as the day evolved and by late af­ter­noon, all of us were hear­ing

from friends and ac­quain­tances from Hanalei to Haena who gave vivid ac­counts of homes lit­er­ally wash­ing away.

Peo­ple rushed to Face­book and saw video show­ing much of Hanalei un­der wa­ter. Black Pot Beach, at the Hanalei Pier, had dis­solved into a rag­ing chan­nel as the Hanalei River seemed to have com­pletely changed course — pos­si­bly per­ma­nently.

Over­turned and flooded ve­hi­cles lit­tered the beach. Strangely, a bi­son was seen stand­ing in the surf.

For those of us cut off on the North Shore, but not as far as from Hanalei to the end of the road, the scene evolved in bizarre ways filled with in­tense un­cer­tainty about the wel­fare of friends.

For a cou­ple of hours, Kuhio High­way was cut be­tween Ki­lauea and Princeville af­ter a storm drain was re­port­edly stopped up. Be­fore the road was re­opened, traf­fic had backed up more than two miles.

When the high­way was fi­nally again avail­able, a wa­ter­fall that usu­ally goes un­no­ticed by most pass­ing driv­ers was gush­ing mist into both traf­fic lanes, with brown rag­ing wa­ter seem­ingly about to sever the road­way.

Per­haps the most shock­ing per­spec­tive was in a map­ping app main­tained by an or­ga­ni­za­tion called the Com­mu­nity Col­lab­o­ra­tive Rain, Hail and Snow Net­work, based in Colorado. Each day, more than 10,000 vol­un­teers across the coun­try post pre­cip­i­ta­tion in­for­ma­tion to a cen­tral site. I’m some­thing of a weather geek, so I’ve been a mem­ber of CoCoRaHS, as it’s called, for 10 years.

On Sun­day morn­ing, it showed a report from Hanalei of more than 36 inches of rain. I think I know the vol­un­teer who posted it and we all tend to be anal in our ef­fort to main­tain ac­cu­rate records. So I be­lieve that much rain ac­tu­ally did fall in Hanalei. More than 9 inches was recorded in Ka­paa and more than 5 inches in two dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in Ki­lauea, in­clud­ing my house.

But for those of us in Ki­lauea, it was the in­ten­sity of the rain and the shock­waves from the thun­der that were most dis­con­cert­ing.

A neigh­bor across the street, who works as a restau­rant host­ess at the St. Regis Princeville Re­sort, was get­ting ready for work at about 5 a.m. when she felt the same in­cred­i­bly loud clap of thun­der I did. It al­most knocked her off her feet.

It was al­most with re­lief that she found out Kuhio High­way was closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to work. My neigh­bor is orig­i­nally from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and I lived in the Los An­ge­les area for 30 years.

Be­tween us, we are more than a lit­tle fa­mil­iar with earthquakes. But that par­tic­u­lar clap of thun­der was so in­cred­i­ble that we both fig­ured it would have regis­tered at least 6.0, and maybe 6.5, on the Richter scale — a sub­stan­tial sized tem­blor.

Along the Kal­i­hi­wai River, po­lice went from house to house warn­ing res­i­dents to evac­u­ate be­cause of con­cern that a reser­voir in the hills above might col­lapse. They feared an in­ci­dent like the 2006 fail­ure of the Kaloko Reser­voir that sent wa­ter crash­ing down Ki­lauea Stream, sweep­ing seven vic­tims to their deaths.

The river at Kal­i­hi­wai beach had re­shaped its banks, sweep­ing away gi­gan­tic pine trees, which were be­ing washed by the surf. When the rain stopped for a cou­ple of hours, two young men emerged from a va­ca­tion rental home so ap­par­ently fear­ful they were ashen

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