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Major Flood cleanup begins

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Flood cleanup begins

Sources: Honolulu Advertiser & Star Bulletin

M12093134.GIF

Other Rainfall Totals over the last 2 1/2 days ending at 5 p.m. yesterday:

Punaluu: 22.7 inches

Kualoa: 16 inches

Kahuku: 12.8 inches

Maunawili: 8.6 inches

Wilson Tunnel: 7.5 inches

Flooded communities from Kahuku to Waimanalo struggled today to clear away soggy debris after the heaviest winter rains in some time.

Parts of O'ahu got nearly 2 feet of rain in the 72 hours that ended at 5 a.m. yesterday, the National Weather Service said. No serious injuries were reported but the mess left over as the water drains will take days to deal with.

State officials plan to use a helicopter today to check on people in areas where emergency crews could not reach yesterday by land.

La'ie resident Kela Miller, who had as much as 4 feet of water in her home, said she expects to spend the weekend cleaning up.

The 61-year-old, who lives in a two-bedroom home with her husband and granddaughter, lost much of her furniture, including a television, beds, a couch and chairs. She was able to save her grandfather's diary, even though it got wet.

But it could have been worse: At one point the water poured into her home while the electricity was still on.

"Someone could have been electrocuted," Miller said. "I'm just fortunate. I might have lost some things but we didn't lose any lives."

Officials yesterday still did not have thorough damage assessment of the drenched Windward communities and authorities still did not know how many homes and businesses were flooded.

State officials intend to take a Hawai'i Air National Guard helicopter aloft this morning to check on the condition of residents, homes and farmlands in areas where dirt valley roads have been flooded or torn up by the storms and emergency crews have not been able to access.

Civil Defense public information officer Ray Lovell said a National Guard flight yesterday indicated there was considerable flooding of farm land. He said he expected that National Guard troops would be out this morning to assist in the recovery.

DISASTER AREA UP CLOSE

City Managing Director Wayne Hashiro led a group of eight city officials through the disaster area yesterday afternoon.

"There's at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage," said city councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, who was part of the tour.

Flooding, debris on the beaches and erosion were substantial, Dela Cruz said. Stream banks fell in, trees washed to the ocean and everywhere people pumped out their homes.

"The erosion is so bad you can see roots from trees and trees falling into the streams," he said.

Larry Leopardi, director of the city's Division of Road Maintenance, said the Hau'ula area and the Ka'a'awa area have never seen as much water as they did over the past few days.

"It is a huge amount of water," he said.

Road crews worked two pumps much of yesterday in Ka'a'awa trying to move water to lower elevations on the makai side of Kamehameha Highway, Leopardi said.

"But there is so much water out there it has no place to go," he said. "The water is just ponding."

Ed Teixeira, state vice director of civil defense, said that at least 10 to 20 homes flooded but he predicted that tally would rise after a more accurate damage assessment is conducted. The most flooding occurred between Kahuku and Kahalu'u, he said.

Teixeira said the only public school damage he knew of came at Kahuku High School where the gym had flooded "and floorboards were popping up."

STATE OF EMERGENCY

Six Red Cross volunteers canvassed neighborhoods yesterday trying to get a handle on the problem.

"I know there are a lot of homes that are underwater," said Gail Higashi, O'ahu disaster coordinator of the Hawai'i chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross did not yet know how many homes or residents were affected, she said.

"I understand that in the Ka'a'awa area, it was virtually inaccessible at one point," Higashi said. "I can't imagine how big the scope of this is right now."

The Red Cross trucked in bottled water yesterday afternoon and will return today with brooms, mops, buckets, sponges and cleaning solution

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