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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 7:21 p.m., Thursday, March 2, 2006

Flash-flood warning extended to 10 p.m.

Advertiser Staff

The National Weather Service has extended its flash-flood warning for Windward O'ahu until 10 p.m. tonight.

Although radar at 7 p.m. showed that the heaviest showers had drifted offshore, runoff from the recent torrential rainfall will continue to result in flash flooding. The automated rain gauge at Punalu'u recorded more than a foot and a half of rain in the 48 hours ending at 5 p.m. today.

Kaua'i also has been drenched with heavy rain that continued through the night and into today.

County crews there opened drainage ditches that lead to the sea in Kekaha overnight as water rose in that normally-arid community.

"We averted flooding in Kekaha," said Civil Defense director Mark Marshall.

No major problems were reported, but there was ponding on roads islandwide, minor rock and mudslides onto roads and minor flooding in various areas, he said.

On O'ahu, state Department of Transportation workers responded to a 200-yard-long landslide at 11 a.m. about a half-mile past Kualoa Ranch on the North Shore side. Workers had to wade through 6 inches of water for about a half-mile before they could start removing the debris, said DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

Roads on the Windward side were closed in the area surrounding Waikane Stream and Waikane Store due to flooding.

Also, Waihe'e Road all the way to Punalu'u was closed due to water and debris and the stretch of Kamehameha Highway from Kahalu'u to Kahuku was littered with branches, mud, rocks, and fallen trees. Police are intermittently closing stretches of the highway.

The wet weather prompted O'ahu Civil Defense to open their emergency management center in the basement of the Municipal Building at 7 a.m. today.

Representatives from the Honolulu Police Department , Honolulu Fire Department, City Emergency Medical Services, and the Red Cross joined more than a dozen civil defense employees to coordinate response planning.

The majority of the weather-related issues confronting first responders yesterday occurred on the Windward side of O'ahu, said John Cummings, plans and operations officer for O'ahu Civil Defense. Three homes were evacuated in the Hau'ula area and a dozen civil defense volunteers were deployed to the area to offer assistance and assess damage.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources today closed recreational areas on Kaua'i and O'ahu due to severe weather. Officials have closed the valley of Malaekahana State Recreation Area in Windward O'ahu.

About a foot of water was reported in the facility parking lot. The entry gate to Malaekahana Valley has been locked for today.

"Malaekahana has experienced the same downpour that closed windward public schools, including Kahuku High, yesterday and today so we are closing the valley to protect public safety," said Peter Young, DLNR chairperson, in a news release.

DLNR also has suspended issuance of camping permits for all state park facilities on the island of Kaua'i until the severe weather subsides.

"We advise the public to avoid trails or streams during the stormy conditions due to dangers from flash flood," said Young. "People should also avoid crossing high, swift flowing water on roadways."

Earlier, the heavy rain between Kane'ohe and Kahuku moved offshore about 9:50 a.m., although ponds resulting from rain runoff were continuing to block traffic on a number of roads in Windward O'ahu, including Kamehameha Highway, the main thoroughfare.

Kahuku, La'ie and Punalu'u were among the areas hardest hit by the early morning showers, Weather Service officials said.

They urged people in the area not to try to cross fast-flowing or rising water, either in vehicles or on foot, saying the water may be too deep to cross safely.

Heavy showers will be wide spread over Kaua'i and Ni'ihau but heavy rain on O'ahu will be concentrated over the Ko'olau Range and Windward coast, the service said.

Police closed Kamehameha Highway in Waikane this morning after heavy rains flooded the road, making some parts impassable.

Drivers were turned around by Waiahole Valley Road, according to a police media alert.

Kamehameha Highway in the area of Sacred Falls also was shut down due to runoff. Water and small rocks made the highway near Ku'uloa Beach Park difficult to drive but was still passable at 6:30 a.m.

School officials said Hau'ula Elementary School was closed along with Ka'a'awa Elementary School, Kahuku High School and Intermediate and the Hakipu'u Learning Center, a public charter school on the grounds of Windward Community College.

Meanwhile, a truck fire on the H-1 Freeway near the Waiau on-ramp, a stalled rubbish truck near the Ward Avenue off-ramp and heavy rain in most area snarled rush-hour traffic coming into town from Leeward and Central O'ahu.