Olivia sails past Hawaii County, dumps rain on Maui

  • Waves break as Tropical Storm Olivia approaches Oahu, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 in Laie, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

  • This photo provided by Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello shows the rising Kaunakakai Gulch in Kaunakakai, Hawaii, on Molokai island Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, after Tropical Storm Olivia brought rain and wind to the island. The storm brought heavy rains to Maui and the Big Island before it was expected to move on to Oahu. (Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello via AP)

  • Photo by Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello via AP

    A rising Kaunakakai Gulch in Kaunakakai on Molokai is seen Wednesday after Tropical Storm Olivia brought rain and wind to the island.

  • This photo provided by the Hawaii Department of Transportation shows tree limbs that have blocked the Hana Highway near Hana on the island of Maui Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Maui was hit with heavy rain and powerful winds Wednesday as a gradually weakening tropical storm neared Hawaii, with forecasters predicting Tropical Storm Olivia could dump 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of rain. Some places could get as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters). (Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP)

  • Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP

    Tree limbs block the Hana Highway on Wednesday near Hana on Maui. Maui was hit with heavy rain and powerful winds Wednesday as a gradually weakening Tropical Storm Olivia neared the state.

Tropical Storm Olivia dropped almost 8 inches of rain on a part of Maui and lashed the Lanai airport with 51 mph wind gusts Wednesday, while the Big Island dodged a bullet.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno described preparations for Tropical Storm Olivia, which passed to the north of Hawaii Island, as “another good drill.”


“We had pretty much no impact,” Magno told emergency workers and county department chiefs Wednesday morning at Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.

The Red Cross opened up an emergency shelter at Waimea Community Center as a precautionary measure.

“I think there was no occupants in the shelter,” Magno said.

County beach parks in North Hawaii were closed. One, Spencer Beach Park, just south of Kawaihae, remains closed until Friday for “routine maintenance,” according to Civil Defense.

The storm did bring higher than normal surf to East Hawaii beaches Tuesday.

“Honolii reported 10 to 15 feet and Richardson up to 12 feet,” said Deanna Marks, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. also reported about 100 customers in Honokaa lost electricity after tree branches fell on power lines early Wednesday morning. All have since been restored.

Meanwhile, Olivia made landfall on the windward coast of the West Maui Mountains before moving farther west. National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye said the island was getting sustained winds of 20 mph to 30 mph from the storm, which was losing steam.

A rain gauge recorded 7.72 inches of rain in 24 hours at West Wailua Iki on Maui.

President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration for Hawaii, which will help the Federal Emergency Management Agency respond, said Gov. David Ige.

FEMA sent emergency teams and supplies to Maui ahead of the storm. The National Guard mobilized personnel and trucks to the east side of Maui, while schools, courts and government offices were closed in Maui County in preparation for the storm.

Tin Roof lunch shop in Kahului, owned by Hilo-born chef Sheldon Simeon and wife, Janice, on Wednesday advertised “rainy day grinds” on Facebook.

“People are coming in. So many places are shut down, so we’re one of few options right now,” said Janice Simeon. “I could not do my errands because everything was closed. The banks were all closed. OfficeMax was closed.”

She said Kahului, home to Maui’s main airport, got “a little drizzle” but not much else.

“Kahului tends to flood when it rains, no flooding at all right now,” Simeon said. “I hear Hana’s getting hit right now, but here it’s pretty clear.”

The owner of the landmark Hasegawa General Store in Hana said he was determined to stay open so residents could buy tarps, screws and other supplies for their homes.

“I think it’s important for us to try to stay open as much as possible, without jeopardizing the well-being of our staff,” said Neil Hasegawa.

Despite steady rain overnight, Hasegawa opened at 7 a.m. The store lost electricity about a half-hour later and needed to use backup generators, he said.

Residents were bracing for the community with a population of 1,200 people to take the brunt of the storm, Hasegawa said. But he was feeling relieved that the rain wasn’t as hard as he feared.

“It’s way better than I expected,” he said. “We’re not out of the woods yet … I’m hoping — it seems like it’s going to keep going north.”

Hana is a popular day-trip destination for Maui tourists. But Hasegawa urged people who don’t need to be in Hana to stay away because they could become trapped and take up limited shelter space.

The state Department of Transportation said crews cleared a landslide on Hana Highway and reported some fallen trees.

Visitors Aaron Huston and Selena Palamides weren’t letting Olivia spoil their Maui vacation.

The Seattle couple stocked their hotel room mini-fridge with munchies and bottled water, “just in case we can’t go out,” Huston said.

They tried to get their sightseeing done Tuesday in case they were stuck Wednesday at their resort in Wailea.

“It sucks, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Huston said. “It’s better than Seattle rain.”

On Molokai, Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello, owner of one of the island’s two gas stations, said she watched a nearby river rise, adding she would send employees home if water washed over the bridge near her Texaco station.

“It will cut off a whole portion of the island from coming in and out of Kaunakakai town,” she said, and added most stores in town were closed.

“We’ve had steady rainfall all day. It’s starting to come down a little heavier now, along with some gusts of wind,” Rawlins-Crivello said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

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