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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 1, 2004

UH salvages what's left after Halloween Eve flood

 •  Flooding leaves lots of muck
 •  Photo Gallery

By James Gonser and Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writers

Manoa residents shoveled mud and debris out of their homes yesterday, while University of Hawai'i officials canceled today's classes and estimated damage in the millions after daybreak revealed the full extent of damage caused by the Halloween Eve flood of 2004.

University of Hawai'i maintenance worker Jorge Ortiz assesses the damage the flood did to the Hamilton Library basement, which stores government documents. Some material even floated down to Dole Street.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Three cars remained tossed like toys within a stand of trees. The footbridge at Pawaina Street lay in Manoa Stream. Homeowners hosed off belongings in what the Red Cross estimated was an eight-block swath along East Manoa Road and Woodlawn Drive.

The UH-Manoa campus was hit hard after the flash flood topped the banks of Manoa Stream and created a new river that raced through the heart of campus. Hamilton Library and the Biomedical Sciences building sustained the most serious damage, officials said.

About three dozen campus buildings did not have electricity yesterday, and workers scrambled to rig generators and dry-ice coolers so experiments would not be lost.

Professor Terrence Lyttle's biomedical lab was under 4 feet of water, destroying at least one-third of the 50,000 Drosophila, which are similar to fruit flies, that were stored in his ground-floor incubator.

Some schools closed today

UH-Manoa classes canceled. Faculty and staff to report as usual. Call 956-0001 for updates. Information also available at http://www.hawaii.edu.

Noelani Elementary School closed because of previously scheduled teacher development day.

Mid-Pacific Institute open, despite some flood damage.

Lyttle's genetic research on the Drosophila goes back 35 years and some of it is irretrievably lost, he said.

"I've been studying that system for my entire career, since I was a graduate student," said Lyttle, 56.

The water also ruined $100,000 worth of computers, microscopes and other electronic equipment.

Gov. Linda Lingle toured the campus and was shocked by the damage.

"It seems as if this is a storm that came down right over Manoa. It looks like a tornado, not something caused by water," she said. "It shows you the power and the force of that much water."

UH professor Terrence Lyttle's biomedical lab was at one point under 4 1/2 feet of water, destroying his genetic research project that goes back 35 years.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

UH's Lyon Arboretum in Manoa recorded 9.96 inches of rain between 11 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. yesterday.

Manoa clearly saw the brunt of the storm, said lead forecaster Tim Craig. More thunderstorms could strike this week. Today, showers are more likely in the afternoon, Craig said.

Lingle signed a disaster proclamation yesterday making personal and commercial loans available from the state's major disaster fund. The state's director of Civil Defense, Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, said the governor is also seeking federal assistance.

David McClain, UH interim president, called the flood "an event of significant destruction," and said 35 buildings were damaged on campus.

Between 6:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, a wall of water 4 feet to 6 feet high swept through low-lying areas of the campus all the way to the sports facilities on the lower campus, McClain said. The parking structure will remain closed until the mud and water can be removed.

In the Hamilton Library basement, students in a class had to smash a window to escape rising floodwaters, said Sara McBride, library development and community specialist.

Yesterday, the water mark in the basement was 6 feet high, and mud filled drawers full of archival maps and documents.

Homepage image
Cars were tossed like toys along Manoa Stream after a flash flood Saturday left mud and debris in what was estimated as an eight-block swath along East Manoa Road and Woodlawn Drive.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

McBride and much of the library staff worked all day yesterday to try to save some of the 90,000 photographs stored in the basement along with rare government documents and Hawaiian maps.

Computers, books, magazines and equipment were destroyed and much of it was strewn from McCarthy Mall down to Dole Street.

Matson Navigation Co. and Horizon Lines donated refrigerated containers to preserve some of the biological research projects and the library documents until power is restored on campus.

"Thirty-three percent of our budget, $330 million, comes from the science side of the operation," McClain said. "We have experiments going on all the time and there is no power. It is a situation you can live with for a few hours, but not for long."

The Fire Department dispatched nine companies to Manoa Valley Saturday night to respond to more than 20 calls from residents between 5 and 10 p.m. Fire Capt. Emmit Kane said the calls were for flooded homes, rising water and other emergencies associated with heavy flooding. He said HFD received no calls for injuries.

Edward Texeira, vice director of Civil Defense on O'ahu, said it was too early to tell yesterday exactly how many homes were affected by the flood.

Noelani Elementary School also suffered severe water damage to several classrooms, the cafeteria and the central administration building. Principal Fred Yoshinaga said eight offices in the administration building were completely flooded.

The rain sent mud, silt and water throughout neighboring Mid-Pacific Institute. Mid-Pac's weight room, boys' locker room, swimming pool, pool mechanical room, cafeteria and an auditorium were all hit to varying degrees, said Hank Howlett, director of facilities and maintenance services. The school will be open today.

Advertiser staff writer Peter Boylan contributed to this report. Reach James Gonser at 535-2431 or jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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Photo Gallery

Three automobiles lay stacked up against some trees next to Manoa Stream.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

A manoa resident shines his flash light on a car that was washed up against a tree on Woodlawn Drive on Saturday night.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

By the light of a lantern Hamilton library employees Kim Haines and Christine Takata, behind, wash rare aerial photos in a shower in the basement of Hamilton.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

This Biomedical building lab has been turned topsy-turvy after a flash flood destroyed computers, incubators, telescopes, research work.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Outside Hamilton Library, Bob Schwarzwalder, head of Information Tech Govt. Documents, hoses down muddy computers with the help of Antony Steele with hopes of retrieving information off the hard drives.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser