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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Manoa, UH assess flash flood's damage

 •  Map: Flooding in Manoa
 •  Photo Gallery - Halloween Eve Flood
 •  Cloning, medical research hit hard by flooding at UH
 •  Librarians rush to salvage flood-damaged items
 •  Students in library fled floodwaters
 •  Homeowners insurance limited
 •  Halloween eve flood damage to UH facilities 'unbelievable'

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

A deluge this heavy had been seen in Manoa Valley only two other times in the last century.

Asian Studies specialist Paul Rausch yesterday helped recover computer equipment and other materials from Hamilton Library.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Saturday's "50-year rain" deposited 1.29 inches of water in just 15 minutes at its worst point — and nearly 4 inches in just one hour — according to the National Weather Service.

And when debris washed down and choked two bridges, at Lowrey Avenue and Woodlawn Drive, Manoa Stream had no place to go but onto the streets, into homes and across the campus of the University of Hawai'i. The flooding — the most serious in years in this quiet residential area — trashed at least 60 homes and caused an estimated $1 million in damage, Civil Defense officials said yesterday.

And that doesn't even count the far more costly destruction at the UH-Manoa campus. Damage at UH was still being assessed but will be in the millions of dollars.

"We've had floods before but this was double of anything we've ever had," said George Arizumi, a Manoa resident since the 1940s. "This was unbelievable."

Disaster assistance

The state and O'ahu Civil Defense will set up a Disaster Assistance Recovery Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the old gymnasium in Manoa Valley District Park. Representatives will be on hand to talk about flood victim assistance, including emergency loans, real property taxes and city permitting services.

Residents can also call Aloha United Way's 211 information and referral to reach Civil Defense for more information.

Cleanup efforts intensified yesterday with city, state and National Guard crews along with residents working to clear mud-caked streets, school grounds and parking lots.

Noelani Elementary School received major damage, and a dozen National Guard troops spent the day cleaning the parking lot and removing debris while the exhausted school staff set up temporary offices in the library because the administration offices were flooded.

"We've had a lot of support from the community," said principal Fred Yoshinaga. Noelani will reopen for classes Thursday and will be used as a polling place during voting today.

On Saturday the floodwaters ran unchecked through the valley.

From the school, the water raced through about a dozen homes on Pamoa Road and into Mid-Pacific Institute and the University of Hawai'i, knocking out electricity to dozens of buildings.

Cars were picked up from the Manoa Innovation Center's parking lot and deposited in the trees across the street.

Several people had to be rescued from flooded cars, basements and a classroom at a UH library, but no injuries were reported.

Although the main damage in Manoa centered around an eight-block area along Lowrey Avenue, East Manoa Road and Woodlawn Drive, several other areas sustained damage, Civil Defense officials said yesterday.

Boulders fell down the hillside, blocking Loulu Street, six cars were flooded on Pinao Street and seven homes on Wa'aloa Way were cut off by mud and debris until 2 p.m. yesterday when crews were able to clear the road, said R. Doug Aton, acting administrator for the O'ahu Civil Defense. The footbridge connecting Pawaina Street was knocked off its footings and will be removed today.

Flooding also occurred in Nu'uanu Valley, where two homes on Klebahn Place suffered damage and water overflowed in McCully flooding the streets.

Yesterday, city crews focused their efforts on removing debris from Woodlawn Bridge using a crane to remove entire trees that had washed downstream. Workers cut them into smaller pieces and hauled them away.

The university is closed today for Election Day and officials will decide today when classes will resume.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources sent workers to inspect the stream for debris that needs to be removed before any more flooding can take place. They walked all the way up to Manoa Falls and are also looking for any landslides that may have contributed to the mud.

State Civil Defense will set up a Disaster Assistance Recovery Center in Manoa Valley District Park's old gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow to provide information to homeowners who have suffered damage about loans and other assistance available.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a state disaster proclamation Sunday, making emergency money available to flood victims and for cleanup efforts. Mayor Jeremy Harris yesterday signed a county disaster proclamation to free up additional money.

Manoa resident Arizumi took part in a volunteer stream cleaning effort Saturday before the rains hit. He was shocked at the damage, especially to the Pawaina Street footbridge, which he hopes will be replaced.

"Not only the kids use it, the elder people walk on it a lot," he said. "All day long it is being used by somebody."

Reach James Gonser at 535-2431 or jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com.

• • •

Manoa Valley's worst

Here are Manoa Valley's three largest rainfall totals since daily records started being kept in 1905.

March 24, 1994: 12.5 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period. The rain was more evenly spread throughout the day, but there was some flooding in Manoa when a tree lodged itself at the Woodlawn Drive bridge.

March 5, 1958: 11 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, but did not cause major flooding.

Oct. 30, 2004: 9.96 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, with the worst 15 minutes between 6:45 and 7 p.m. when 1.29 inches fell. That's a rate of about 5 inches an hour.

Source: National Weather Service