Kauai Flooding Eases But Damage Is Worse Than Expected, Aerial Survey Shows

April 20, 2018

Days after flooding began on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, destroying homes and forcing hundreds to flee, an aerial survey shows that the destruction is worse in some areas than previously thought. 

Sheri S. Mann, Kauai branch manager of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said that most Department of Land and Natural Resources lands escaped the worst of the flooding. The majority of the eroded areas occurred in remote areas, Hawaiin News Now reports.

"Some roads on the North Shore are washed-out and impassable," Mann said in a news release. "Most of the recently built bridges, including three along Camp Ten Road in the Kokee area, seem to be sound and have had no impact. The same is true of the lower-Waimea Canyon DOFAW managed lands and cabins.” 

Other parts of the island weren't so lucky. Several stream crossings in the Wailua-Kapaa part of the island were either entirely or partially washed away, forcing authorities to ban vehicles beyond the new Keahua bridge over the Wailua River.

“What we saw surprised us on a number of levels; we didn’t expect to see the specific damages where we saw them, but we also were thankful that there was very little damage to areas that often get impacted by these kinds of storms," Mann said. 

Hawaii lawmakers said Wednesday that $125 million had been approved for disaster funding that'll be used to repair the infrastructure, which was ravaged in some areas by the flooding, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Kauai will receive $100 million of that funding, while the other $25 million will go to other parts of the state affected by the floods, the report added.

According to the office of Hawaii Gov. David Ige, emergency crews were able to evacuate 152 people by helicopter, 121 more in buses and several others by boat on Monday. Those who were evacuated were warned that they'd be away from their homes indefinitely because landslides continue to block Kuhio Highway on Kauai's north shore, according to the Associated Press.

At least four houses were destroyed along the north shore, and Red Cross volunteers told the AP more homes were probably destroyed in Koloa on the southern end of the island. Dozens more homes were reported flooded or otherwise damaged.

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The homes that washed away on the north shore were vacant, and no serious injuries were reported during the floods, the AP also said.

"I've lived here all my life and this storm was pretty gnarly," resident Kevin Kaleiohi told Hawaii News Now.

Coralie Chun Matayoshi, chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Hawaii, told the AP that a shelter at Hanalei Elementary School briefly ran out of food and water when weather grounded helicopters, keeping the Hawaii Guard from delivering supplies.

The flooding prompted Ige to declare a state of emergency.

"I've lived here all my life and this is one of the most serious situations on Kauai," Mayor Bernard Carvalho told Hawaii News Now. "Things are just terrible. What we're really focusing on right now is search and rescue ... and a thorough damage assessment."

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