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Heavy Rains And Flooding Hit Maui Hard

Maui County / Lois Whitney
Maui County / Lois Whitney

Major flooding and heavy rain prompted an emergency proclamation Wednesday in Maui County. The wet weather knocked out a water line, flooded parks and homes, and caused several mudslides. HPR’s Molly Solomon says it’s just the latest in what’s been a wetter than normal couple of months.

Residents and county workers spent much of the day cleaning up the mess left behind after torrential rains came down hard on the Valley Isle. Maui County communications director Rod Antone says one of the worst hit areas was Kepaniwai Park.

Maui County / Keith Regan
Credit Maui County / Keith Regan
Flooding damage at Iao Valley.

“Just mud and debris everywhere,” said Antone. “Part of the parking lot fell into the ‘?ao Stream, although maybe we should call it ‘?ao River now.”

Antone says the rains also washed away a section of pipe in ‘?ao Stream, that impacted the water supply for customers in Central and South Maui.

“This is the water that goes to people’s home, and stream water went in there,” Antone explained. “You’ve got bacteria, twigs, leaves and mud -- stuff that our system would normally filter out.”

County officials are urging residents to boil any tap water for three minutes and discard ice cubes to avoid contamination. Affected areas include Iao Valley, Kahului, Wailuku, Paia, Spreckelsville, Puunene, Kihei, Wailea, Makena and Maalaea.

Miles Lopes
Credit Miles Lopes
Debris from Kahoma Stream runoff closed Mala Wharf Ramp in Lahaina.

The storm dropped 10 inches of rain on Maui, most of it during a short period of time, just a couple of hours. At one point, Maui was getting 1.25 inches of rain in just 15 minutes.

“For us, that’s really a big deal,” said National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama. “If we’re looking at ¾ of an inch, or an inch in 15 minutes, that’s pretty high. So when you get up to 1.25 inches, that’s way up there.”

Kodama says the recent rainy weather comes after an especially soggy month of August.

“It would have been the wettest August in a lot of places, if it wasn’t for last year,” he said. “In other words, it was the second wettest August on record. So your two wettest August totals have been this year and last year.”

Kodama says there are several factors to consider when we talk about increased rainfall. Two of them include rising sea surface temperatures and all the cyclone activity we’ve had in the Pacific.

“You combine the two things and it just makes it a very volatile situation in terms of rainfall,” he said.

For now, county officials are warning residents to stay alert for flash floods and the possibility of more rain. Residents may report damages at mauicounty.gov or by calling 270-7285.

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon joined HPR in May 2012 as an intern for the morning talk show The Conversation. She has since worn a variety of hats around the station, doing everything from board operator to producer.
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