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Flooding, Road Closures, and Sewer Spills: Darby Leaves Behind a Muddy Mess

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon
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The remnants of Tropical Storm Darby continue to drift away from the islands. And while the state escaped any major damage, cleanup is continuing. HPR’s Molly Solomon has more.

A muddy mess at the intersection of Dillingham and Middle Street is one of the final remains of Darby, the first major storm to hit Hawai‘i this hurricane season. Heavy rain Sunday night caused the nearby Kalihi stream to overflow, flooding the road with tree branches, debris, and thick layers of mud.

Molly Solomon
Credit Molly Solomon
Aton Omar Lepanto cleans up leftover mud and debris in the front parking lot of Marukai Market on Dillingham Blvd.

Aton Omar Lepanto is one of many nearby business workers still cleaning up from Sunday’s downpour. He scrapes away leftover muck in the parking lot entrance of Marukai Market.

“The water actually went up almost two feet up the wall,” said Lepanto. “My whole storage lot area is full of water I’ve got to clean out.”

The rain that swamped areas of O‘ahu also stranded hundreds of drivers, flooding major roadways on the island. 

“There were several areas that impacted congestion and traffic around O‘‘ahu. But the biggest area of impact was likely on the H-1 freeway westbound in the Kalihi area,” said Tim Sakahara, the spokesman for the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation. He said lanes on H-1 westbound near the Liliha School Street exit were closed shortly after 8 p.m. on Sunday and didn’t reopen until 5 a.m. Monday morning.

Molly Solomon
Credit Molly Solomon

“It was just too much rain falling in a short amount of time,” he said. “Storm drains in this area were clear, it wasn’t like something was blocking it. It really was just the volume of water that came down all at once.”

Some areas like Nu‘uanu and Moanalua saw more than 11 inches of rain fall over a 24-hour period, prompting a flash flood warning for the island throughout most of the night. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says thanks to preparedness on the part of the city and county, many areas prone to flooding remained safe. However, he said problem spots like the H-1 exit would need to be addressed.

Molly Solomon
Credit Molly Solomon

“I think we need to sit down with the state and look at how the water got down into H-1 over by School Street and Liliha and see what we can do to stop that from reoccurring,” Caldwell said. “That’s something we’re going to be reaching out to address.”

Mayor Caldwell said a couple dozen Handi-Vans were also damaged in the storm after the lot was flooded overnight. Delays are expected and about 13 were still awaiting repair by Monday afternoon.

The Honolulu Fire Department reported they had responded to more than 200 weather related emergencies. 133 of those calls were for flooding conditions, most in the Kalihi and Nu‘uanu areas.

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