Seven rescued in ocean off Hakalau

Heavy rain from the remnants of former Hurricane Celia necessitated an ocean rescue of seven beachgoers by Hawaii Fire Department personnel off Hakalau early Monday evening.

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Heavy rain from the remnants of former Hurricane Celia necessitated an ocean rescue of seven beachgoers by Hawaii Fire Department personnel off Hakalau early Monday evening.

“It was a flash-flood type event,” Battalion Chief Michael Hayashida said Tuesday morning.

Fire rescuers responded to a 5:01 p.m. call, with the first unit arriving at Hakalau Beach Park 18 minutes later, according to a Fire Department statement.

Rain-swollen Hakalau Stream was emptying into the ocean at Hakalau Beach Park and had pushed the seven, all surfers and/or bodyboarders ranging in age from 10 to 20, according to Hayashida, farther offshore, where onshore rescuers were unable to see them.

“They all had a bodyboard or a surfboard,” Hayashida said. “Between our response and our arrival, they were able to use whatever they had as flotation devices.”

A county helicopter spotted all seven, and two rescue swimmers were deployed to get them aboard the chopper.

Eight units, including three medical units, responded to the call, but no medical treatment was needed.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for parts of the Hamakua Coast because of heavy rains caused by the remnants of the former tropical cyclone.

According to the 8:45 a.m. rainfall summary from the NWS, Hakalau received 1.26 inches of rain in the previous 24 hours. It was even rainier a few miles north in Laupahoehoe, where the gauge measured 3.26 inches for the period.

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Although the remnant low-pressure system caused overcast skies and muggy weather in Hilo, only a trace amount of rain fell at Hilo International Airport. It was rainier in a couple of upslope Hilo locations, with 1.14 inches of rain in Piihonua and 0.94 inches in Waiakea Uka.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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