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5 Panaewa homes receive most damage from Monday afternoon storm

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A Hawaii Electric Light Co. crew works on power lines Tuesday in Panaewa.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Panaewa resident Josh Cabagason on Tuesday looks at his fence that was damaged in Monday’ storm.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Mona Brown holds her 22-month-old grandson, Junior, who was with her inside when the roof was blown off her Panaewa home during a thunderstorm Monday afternoon.

Five Panaewa homes received the brunt of the damage from a brief thunderstorm Monday afternoon that ripped through their neighborhood, tore off roofing and twisted fences.

“It was so scary,” said homeowner Mona Brown on Tuesday morning as crews on Pohai Street behind her worked to restore power lines and clean up debris from the storm.

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The “quick-moving” storm was caused by a low pressure system that moved in from the north this past weekend. The National Weather Service in Honolulu registered wind gusts close to 50 mph in some areas and more than an inch of rain at the Hilo International Airport. Some areas also recorded up to 0.75 of an inch of dime-sized hail.

Lightning and heavy straight-line winds knocked out power for 13,000 Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers in Hilo and Puna. Most power was restored within a few minutes, excluding a few pockets.

Hawaii County Civil Defense on Tuesday said there were no other damages reported other than to the five Panaewa homes.

On Tuesday morning, piles of damaged metal roofing were stacked along the sides of Pohai Street, and tarps were draped over roofs of affected homes. Several people were outside making repairs, and fans were running to dry out flooded areas.

Resident Josh Cabagason said he wasn’t home when the storm struck. It damaged a portion of his roof and twisted a chain-link fence separating his property from the neighbor’s home. He said it was “the first time something like this has happened.”

“We showed up about 10 minutes too late,” Cabagason said. “We came home to (the neighbor’s) roof laying on ours. (The storm) broke (one half of the roof) and some wind blew up the side, but other than that, this house was blessed.”

Brown said she was inside when rain first began pouring through her window. She said she went to shut the window and a gust of wind blew through her property, taking out a 20-year-old mountain apple tree in the front yard.

“When I saw that tree go down, I grabbed him and ran,” Brown said, gesturing to her 22-month-old grandson, Junior. “It felt like the house was lifting up. It ripped the roof right off — half my dining room and kitchen, the carport and the outside bathroom. It was crazy.

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“In this many years I’ve never ever ever experienced something like this. It was like a direct hit.”

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.