Weaker Lane soaks Hawaii

Stores re­open­ing af­ter down­graded storm’s is­land del­uge

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Au­drey McAvoy and Caleb Jones As­so­ci­ated Press

The is­land moun­tains ripped apart the storm, but rain­fall is cat­a­strophic.

HONOLULU — Weather of­fi­cials dropped all warn­ings Satur­day af­ter Trop­i­cal Storm Lane weak­ened and turned away from Hawaii.

The once-pow­er­ful storm be­gan mov­ing to the west, break­ing its north­ward march to­ward Honolulu af­ter drench­ing the Big Is­land and Maui over the past two days. The slow­mov­ing storm dumped 45 inches of rain on the Big Is­land and about a foot on Maui be­fore it was down­graded Fri­day to a trop­i­cal storm.

The storm was 110 miles south of Honolulu, but the state’s most pop­u­lous city was largely spared from any im­pacts.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice recorded about 2.3 inches of rain on Oahu in a 24-hour pe­riod end­ing Satur­day.

Shops along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu be­gan re­open­ing Satur­day. Tourists wan­dered the beach and took leisurely swims. Ho­tels be­gan putting deck chairs back along­side pools. Dozens of surfers were in the Pa­cific Ocean.

Lane is ex­pected to whip up waves for days.

Surfer Guy­van Taevil, said that he had only one thing on his mind the past week. “Waves,” Taevil said, clutch­ing his blue body board on the shores of Kona. “It was the first thing that popped into my head.”

Winds were also calmer on Maui, which had seen about 12 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph. On Satur­day, winds were about 11 mph.

Like the Big Is­land, Maui ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing and land­slides, but no storm­re­lated deaths.

Still, fore­cast­ers had said as much as 10 more inches of rain could fall on parts of Oahu and Maui.

“Don’t let your guard down,” Brock Long, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, said dur­ing a tele­phone briefing Satur­day in Wash­ing­ton.

Rain be­gan fall­ing sev­eral days ago on the Big Is­land, which has re­ceived nearly 4 feet in some ar­eas.

Au­thor­i­ties res­cued peo­ple from more than 20 homes overnight, Hawaii County Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Wil Ok­abe said, and land­slides and pool­ing water forced the tem­po­rary clo­sure of sev­eral high­ways.

The rain­fall eased Satur­day.

The Amer­i­can Red Cross said more than 1,100 peo­ple were stay­ing in shel­ters, mostly in Oahu. And while the num­ber was down from ear­lier re­ports, of­fi­cials said the fig­ure shows a lot of peo­ple are still dis­placed.

Lane first ap­proached the is­lands last week as a Cat­e­gory 5 hur­ri­cane, mean­ing it was likely to cause cat­a­strophic dam­age with winds of 157 mph or above.

But up­per-level winds known as shear swiftly tore the storm apart.

By Satur­day, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said Lane had max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 60 mph.

The outer bands of the hur­ri­cane dumped as much as 45 inches of rain on the mostly ru­ral Big Is­land, the Weather Ser­vice said. The main town of Hilo, with 43,000 peo­ple, was flooded Fri­day with waist-high water.

As flood­ing hit the Big Is­land, winds fanned brush fires that had bro­ken out in dry ar­eas of Maui and Oahu. Some res­i­dents in a shel­ter on Maui had to flee flames, and an­other fire forced peo­ple from their homes.

Flames burned nine homes in the his­toric coastal town of La­haina and forced 600 peo­ple to evac­u­ate, Maui County spokes­woman Lynn Araki-Re­gan said. Some have re­turned, but many have not be­cause much of the area lacks power, Araki-Re­gan said.

Those out­ages meant the water provider on Maui’s west side was un­able to pump, so of­fi­cials at the Maui Elec­tric util­ity urged con­ser­va­tion.

In Honolulu’s Waikiki, the man-made Ala Wai Canal was likely to flood if pre­dicted rains ar­rive, said Ray Alexan­der of the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers. The canal marks the north­ern boundary of the Waikiki tourist district.

“The canal has flooded in the past, and I be­lieve it’s safe to say based on the fore­cast of rain­fall it’s likely to flood again — the im­pacts of which we aren’t pre­pared to say at this time,” Alexan­der said.

Ma­jor flood­ing could dam­age 3,000 struc­tures and cost more than $1 bil­lion in re­pairs, the Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser news­pa­per re­ported, cit­ing Corps es­ti­mates.

The cen­tral Pa­cific gets fewer hur­ri­canes than other re­gions, with only about four or five named storms a year, of­fi­cials said. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last ma­jor storm to hit Hawaii was Iniki in 1992. But oth­ers have come close in re­cent years.

JOHN LOCHER/AP

Kevin Pak emp­ties hy­dro bar­ri­ers, used to block water much like a sand­bag, as he helps re­open a store Satur­day along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Lane veered from the is­lands.

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