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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

No major O'ahu damage linked to rain

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

A state Highways Division crew yesterday was clearing debris that had fallen on Kailua Road during recent heavy rain. The crew also worked to remove outcroppings of rocks that were threatening to fall. While there were no reports of major damage, the Windward side was soaked.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The fast-moving storm that swept across O'ahu Tuesday night and yesterday morning left no reports of major damage, but at least one community remains partially under water because of this week's heavy rainfall.

Ka'a'awa residents said yesterday their streets and yards had 1 to 2 feet of water during the downpour and they expect the flooding to last for several days. The Windward shoreline community is made up of hillside and low-lying homes some in a flood plain.

DeeDee Letts, a Ka'a'awa resident, said rains bring beautiful waterfalls that offset the misery of flooding conditions the community endures after major storms. But this storm, she said, was worse than most because the people who live at higher elevations were scrambling to keep water out of their homes.

"They were out on their patios brooming water off because it was coming down so fast and it was coming in under the glass doors," Letts said.

Letts blamed part of the flooding problem on the height of Kamehameha Highway, which she said acts like a dam for water running to the ocean. She said she would ask the state Department of Transportation to place more culverts under the highway.

The state said it would consider the request but had limited options to deal with the problem because the road is just one foot above sea level in some places.

"If we make the roadway higher it will be a dam," said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. "If we make it any lower the road will be washed out."

Ishikawa said crews were out yesterday to check stream and culvert channels across state highways to make sure they are clear of debris.

John Cummings, plans and operations officer for the O'ahu Civil Defense Agency, said the storm caused no major damage.

However, H-1 westbound flooded near the Middle Street cutoff and that was closed for a while, Cummings said. A city crew responded to a fallen rock wall at 'Alewa Drive and Wyllie Street and the Honolulu Fire Department had to assist a family that was trapped in an automobile in Mapunapuna, he said.

The Civil Defense had about 30 volunteers monitoring key areas of concern, including Kawai Nui Marsh and Moanalua, Kalihi, Makiki and Manoa streams.

According to the National Weather Service Web site, rainfall in the 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. yesterday included 4.3 inches in upper Nu'uanu, 1.8 inches at the Wilson Tunnel, 2.8 inches in Maunawili Valley, 1.96 inches in Waimanalo, 2.4 inches in Kunia and 1.55 in Punalu'u.

The National Weather Service said the worst was over and the Islands can expect light to moderate trade winds into the weekend. There will be a few weekend and mauka showers, said lead forecaster Henry Lau.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.