Buckets of rain, but ‘minimal’ damage

  • MICHAEL BRESTOVANSKY/Tribune-Herald Water from rain-swollen Wailuku River crashes over Rainbow Falls Sunday in Hilo.
  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald Flood waters behind the Bayside Texaco cover Pauahi Street in Hilo on Monday afternoon.

The torrential rainfall that pounded East Hawaii has eased, but that doesn’t mean the precipitation has stopped completely.

In the four-day period ending at 8 a.m. Monday, Hilo International Airport received 7.28 inches of rain. It was even wetter upslope, with Piihonua, just above Hilo on the Wailuku River, getting 19.26 inches in the same period. Glenwood, in upper Puna, tallied 27.23 inches over those four days. In Hamakua, Honokaa received heavy rains three of those four days, ending up with 12.98 inches. And Kapapala Ranch in Ka‘u received 15.05 inches — 12.86 inches, or 85% of it, in the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Sunday.

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It was less rainy during the day Monday than it had been the previous few days, but rain remains in the forecast for the next week.

“It’s not going to be like it was this past weekend, that’s for sure,” said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, on Monday. “We’re still looking at trade wind showers through the week.

“And this weekend, I think a front may come down and affect our weather.”

A flash flood warning in effect the entire weekend was downgraded to a watch on Monday.

The weather caused numerous road closures around much of the island over the weekend.

Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19), just north of Honokaa near the 47-mile marker, was closed both Saturday and Sunday mornings as trees fell across the highway. The road also was closed Sunday in Laupahoehoe Gulch between the 25- and 26-mile markers because of a landslide.

Fallen trees on Stainback Highway caused Department of Public Safety officials to cancel family visitations with inmates at Kulani Correctional Facility on Sunday.

Daniel K. Inouye Highway also was closed at the 11-mile marker on the Hilo side Saturday night because of flooding and debris on the roadway.

And a 72-year-old woman had to be rescued early Sunday morning when the bus she was driving stalled in floodwaters near the 59-mile marker of Highway 11 at Kawa Flats in Ka‘u.

The only closure remaining as of Monday afternoon was Kamehameha Avenue between Ponahawai Street to the Keaukaha side of Pauahi Street.

The closure of Kamehameha snarled traffic in the downtown Hilo area, especially on crosstown arteries such as Kilauea Avenue and Kinoole Street.

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno described damage from the flooding as “pretty minimal.”

“There was some up in the Piihonua area,” Magno said. “The flooded area down in Bayfront, some of the restrooms were impacted. We’re not able to get into there. I don’t know what the impact to the flood diversion area is. We need to wait for the water to recede to look at that.”

Magno noted the Bayfront soccer fields are a designated floodplain.

“That area is doing what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “It’s a flood basin due to the tsunami (inundation zone) and the water coming down from the Alenaio Stream system.”

Kent Inouye, owner of Bayside Texaco on the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Pauahi Street, said his service station, which closed on Friday, remained closed Monday afternoon.

“I can’t do anything about it. I just deal with it,” Inouye said. “The water got into the sumps. I’m pumping that out. I’m waiting, too, for the water to recede; I’ve got four more sumps that I need to pump out. This amount of water, it’s taking a long time.”

Inouye has been following the weather forecasts, and is hoping to reopen today.

“I’m thinking the weather is going to (improve), but I’m worried the weather’s going to be bad at the end of the week, so we might face the same thing,” he said. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, so I have a procedure that I follow.”

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A high surf advisory remains in effect for east-facing shores of all islands until 6 a.m. Thursday.

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

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