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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 1, 2004

Flooding leaves lots of muck

 •  UH salvages what's left after Halloween Eve flood

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Manoa resident Chris Mooney was getting ready to go to a Halloween party Saturday night when he looked out his window and saw five cars floating down the street.

Manoa residents on Lowry Street near East Manoa Road shovel mud from the sidewalk and street after a flash flood Saturday night turned much of the area into a raging river.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Then he heard horns honking and people yelling.

Mooney, 32, an assistant swim coach at the University of Hawai'i who lives on Woodlawn Drive, yesterday recalled hearing his wife say she thought a woman and a boy were stuck in a sport utility vehicle in the middle of their flooded street.

He went outside and spotted Cindy Urbanc, 31, and her 8-year-old son sitting in their white SUV in the middle of Woodlawn Drive with water rising rapidly around it, Mooney said.

"I was super freaking out," Urbanc said yesterday.

Urbanc said she was driving home and didn't notice that the water on the street had risen rapidly, partially submerging cars around her. The street lights on Woodlawn went out all at once, she said, and then her car stalled. She opened the door and water rushed in.

Chris Mooney helped pull a woman and her young son from a car trapped in rising floodwaters on Woodlawn Street.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Mooney said he waded through murky, chest-high water for 50 yards to get to Urbanc's SUV. He said Urbanc was petrified, and he decided to carry her son to safety first. After carrying the boy to dry ground, Mooney went back to get Urbanc.

"The timing was perfect. A little while longer and it would have been real bad," Mooney said. "I just hope that if the shoe was on the other foot someone would help my family."

Many Manoa residents spent yesterday shoveling mud out of their yards and gathering on street corners to gawk at what the flash flood left behind.

There was a steady stream of cars at the bridge over Manoa Stream on Woodlawn Drive as motorists and pedestrians stopped to stare at the three cars that were swept off the street Saturday night and ended up clumped together in a tree.

Harold Wataoka, 81, lives next to the stream and said his entire house was flooded.

He said the carpet, the furniture and anything that was left on the floor was destroyed. He said it is a big inconvenience, but that he isn't upset.

Yesterday, family and friends carried buckets of mud out of Wataoka's house and dumped them onto the street.

Wataoka walked barefoot through puddles of mud and debris, inspecting pieces of furniture that family members carried out to him to see if they could be salvaged.

"I feel all right. I cannot do nothing," he said, shaking his head. "Cannot help."

Other residents were not so calm when it came to assessing the damage.

"It's like a big giant dam in front of my house," said Lydia Alvarez, a printer who lives next to Noelani Elementary School. "It's nuts."

Alvarez said a surge of water brought down her front fence and carried her bike into her neighbor's yard. She said a 4-foot-high wall of mud, tree branches and bushes blocked her front door. But her troubles paled in comparison to the anxiety felt by her boyfriend, Kevin Smith, who had no idea how the water and mud treated his 1967 MGB GT show car.

Smith, a 60-year-old photographer, said the first thing he worried about was his car, an expensive vehicle that he has had for a long time. He said the car was under water Saturday night and that the flood left a lot of mud on the seats. But it started right up when he turned the key.

"It was like music to my ears," he said.

Reach Peter Boylan at 535-8110 or pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.