Break in rain, but not for cleanup crews
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
KANE'OHE — As rain clouds loomed overhead yesterday, city and state crews hurriedly completed cleanup projects and cleared out minor landslides caused by early-morning rain.
They were bracing for another round of heavy rain forecast for last night and today.
"We've done everything we could do," said Larry Leopardi, chief of the Division of Road Maintenance. "Whether that's enough or not, time will tell."
City and state agencies spent most of yesterday — and this week — revisiting "choke" areas where debris has been trapped in waterways and forced heavy flooding over the past few weeks. City and state officials also had to clear a landslide yesterday following early-morning rain.
The landslide happened in the 2700 and 2800 blocks of Round Top Drive on Tantalus, Leopardi said. About 100 to 200 cubic yards of material crashed onto the road from state-owned conservation land. The crew was out at 4:30 a.m. and had the road cleared at 10:10.
No injuries resulted from the slide, according to emergency officials.
The National Weather Service forecast called for heavy rain to first hit Kaua'i, then move across the rest of the islands overnight, said Kevin Kodama, hydrologist for the weather service. Kodama said a "solid wall of rain" was expected to hit Kaua'i in the early evening before rolling over the rest of the Island chain.
Kodama said a break in the weather could come tomorrow, but another round of bad weather could hit again on Sunday or Monday.
And today is expected to be wet. Everywhere.
Lani Andrew of Hau'ula Homestead Road said the threat of heavy rain has made her anxious.
"When we saw on the news it was like this huge massive amount of rain coming and you know, we had more than our share," Andrew said. "So we're not looking forward to it."
The sandbags that have protected her lot are still in place, she said, adding that "they're not moving until the sun is up for a month."
Yesterday's cloudy, but mostly dry weather allowed state crews to reinspect bridges, culverts and drainage systems for debris that could clog systems along the Windward coast, said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.
"Just because you don't have debris today doesn't necessarily mean you're not going to have debris coming down from upstream another day," Ishikawa said. "We'll just keep double-checking until the storm hits."
The state also finished removing potential hazards from above the entrance to the Likelike Highway tunnel, he said. The townbound lane has been closed for several days to allow a huge crane to gain access to a drainage ditch above the portal.
About 30 truckloads of brush, trees, rocks and mud were removed, Ishikawa said, adding that a 5-foot-tall fence will be installed to hold back small rocks and debris.
Heavy rain did strike several locations on O'ahu early yesterday morning, but no trouble was reported except at Tantalus and Manoa, where a small slide fell into someone's backyard and the bigger slide blocked portions of Round Top Drive, said Bill Balfour, head of the O'ahu Civil Defense Agency.
The agency had opened its emergency operations center at 1:15 yesterday morning, but it was shut down a little more than three hours later at 4:30 a.m., Balfour said.
"We had localized ponding here and there, but no road closures, no one calling for help," he said.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org.