Windward O'ahu drenched
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
Kane'ohe — O'ahu and Kaua'i remain under a flash flood watch and two Windward schools are closed today following a rainstorm that closed roads, flooded homes and triggered mudslides.
Kahuku High & Intermediate School and Ka'a'awa Elementary School are closed today because of flooding, the Department of Education said last night.
A flash flood warning was in effect for O'ahu and Kaua'i until late last night, and the advisory was to be downgraded to a flash flood watch to last most of today.
Yesterday's downpour followed a similar storm a week ago that left much of the Windward area saturated and prone to flooding.
Rain poured steadily from 8 a.m. yesterday into the night from Kailua to Kahuku.
Kamehameha Highway, the main highway from Kane'ohe to Kahuku, was closed last night from 8 to 10 at the Waikane Store and bridge area because of flooding, police reported.
Earlier, a minor mudslide onto the highway near Johnson Road in Hakipu'u disrupted traffic for about an hour as crews cleared the highway, said Bill Balfour, administrator for the O'ahu Civil Defense Agency. The highway was cleared by about 1:30 p.m., said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.
Civil Defense volunteers were sent to check highways and streams, Balfour said.
One spot watched was Manoa Stream, which overflowed its banks in October 2004 and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. At about 4:30 p.m. yesterday, the brown, rushing water had reached a concrete beam under the bridge on Woodlawn Drive and debris began to collect.
Curious onlookers stood on the bridge and watched as the storm water washed by. But by 5:15 p.m., the water had receded and the threat had ended.
Kahuku High & Intermediate School, which is prone to flooding because it is in a flood plain, sent students home at 10:15 a.m. and the school and public library on campus closed at 1 p.m.
The campus parking lot, track field and central lawn were covered with water, said vice principal Pat Macadangdang. Custodians lined sandbags along doorways to low-lying buildings and no water came into classrooms, she said.
With few covered areas and everyone getting wet, school officials decided it was best for students to go home, she said.
"It was not safe," Macadangdang said. "People were taking spills, slipping and sliding here and there."
The Honolulu Fire Department and the Red Cross responded to reports of flooding at two Ka'a'awa homes shortly before 2 p.m., said Capt. Kenison Tejada, HFD spokesman. Water stopped rising just before entering the porch of one home that was built on posts and beams, Tejada said.
A fire crew was called to pump water out of the home, but Tejada said not much could be done until the rain stopped.
Windward residents stayed indoors, but flooding surrounded them. Bernie Panoncial, of Waiahole Valley, said she couldn't leave the valley because of water on the roads and debris falling from trees. Earlier in the day, she said, Waiahole Stream was rising and the road in front of Waikane Store was covered with water.
"It's a nice day for ducks," Panoncial said.
Lenny Kalili, of Hau'ula, said the stream near her home was rising and the roads were covered with water. Kalili said she was glad her three grandchildren were sent home from Kahuku school.
"At least I know they are safe," she said, advising against coming out to the Windward side. "Don't even chance 'em. Stay home, eat saimin and watch TV. No come."
The National Weather Service blamed showers that stalled over the Windward coast yesterday morning between Kahalu'u and Turtle Bay. The rain was dropping at about an inch per hour, said forecaster Tom Birchard.
"It's the interaction of the southeast wind and the terrain," Birchard said. "It's a fairly common thing that happens along the coast when the right ingredients come together."Staff writer Curtis Lum contributed to this report. Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@hon oluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at email@example.com.