Residents of Kauai, the wettest of all the Hawaiian Islands, can generally deal with rain. March is regarded as the rainiest month, but in the past week, the “Garden Island” has had a deluge of historic proportions.
After an overall wet spring in Hawaii, Kauai has been in a state of emergency this week, after the National Weather Service recorded 27.5 inches of rain and the Hanalei River swelled, claiming farmlands and entire neighborhoods, primarily on the North Shore of the island. Earlier on Friday, the island was again under a flash flood warning. r
Residents and visitors were cut off and stranded this week as the floods and mudslides damaged roads and bridges. Areas such as Wailua, Kapaa, and Anahola, experienced significant flooding. Power outages have been widespread.
According to a National Weather Service report from last Sunday, “The peak 24-hour (total) at Hanalei was 28.15 inches as of 2 a.m. when the gauge stopped reporting. The record 24-hour rainfall at this site is 28.54 inches … While the total was slightly less than the record, it is highly likely that this record was broken by heavy rainfall after the gauge stopped reporting.”
Wainiha recorded 19.54 inches in that time and Mount Waialeale collected 18.02 inches.
Many people were simply trapped by overflowing rivers. Governor David Ige’s office reported that people had been evacuated from flooded or cut-off areas by helicopter, some from the roofs of homes. More have been collected by bus, and others in dramatic boat rescues.
It has been an extraordinary week on Kauai, with big wave surfer and waterman pioneer Laird Hamilton making a reported 75 rescues with his own boat. He also lent his own boat ramp to the National Guard for rescues.
Hamilton's wife, professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece, set up a Go Fund Me campaign with friends Koral McCarthy and and Hannah Skvarla, which raised nearly $184,000 in the first three days.
The GoFundMe page states:
“We are contributing to relief efforts on the ground and also working to determine the right way to distribute these funds to everyone affected. It is our hope that we will be able to partner with a local non-profit to provide both short- and long-term relief, and will keep everyone updated as soon as we can. The GoFundMe team is also providing us with amazing support and guidance on how to move forward."
Among those rescued was professional surfer Leila Hurst, who was hosting a sleepover camp for young girls. Hamilton was able to scoop Hurst and the 15 girls.
In addition, bison from the Hanalei Bison Ranch have been displaced all over the island, roaming the beaches and even swimming out to sea. While some have been rescued (and dramatically wrangled on jet ski) others are reportedly still missing.
Napali Coast State Wilderness (including Kalalau Trail), Ha’ena State Park, and Polihale State Park are all closed for an extended period of time.
On Thursday, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. made a trip to the affected areas.
“Today’s mission was productive, as I was able to see in person exactly what our people still need,” he said, according to a press release at Kauai.gov. “There’s no shortage of aloha on the North Shore. I am amazed and truly grateful for our community members who, even in the face of their own personal disasters, are out here working tirelessly to help clear roadways and debris, and get food and supplies to others.”
There are no accurate storm damage estimates yet, but homes and infrastructure have been heavily damaged or destroyed. Residents and tourists are being warned to stay out of brown water, as it may be contaminated with run off. Those in affected areas have also been advised not to drink or cook with tap water.
More Content About the Kauai Floods From ASN