HANALEI, Kauai — Early Monday, residents of Kauai’s flood-ravaged North Shore organized an effort to transport flood victims from Haena and Hanalei Bay since the roads were closed due to landslides.

I was on the first boat out of Anini Beach with volunteers and a collection of water and supplies.

We were unable to unload at Hanalei when we arrived, but while we were in the bay we witnessed the Hawaii paniolo working to capture a stray buffalo that had been swept downriver into the bay.

A man aboard a Jet Ski lassos a buffalo that ended up in Hanalei Bay after flash flooding washed animals downriver.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Our skipper decided to head out to Tunnels Beach in Haena to deliver water and pick up flood victims in that area.

There was a large enough swell that the boat ride was very rough. I was doing my best to protect my equipment as water splashed over us with each wave.

Once we arrived, I had to remain at Haena so the boat could transport people back to Hanalei. People were coming out to the beach where we were dropped off to collect the water we delivered.

Flood victims head toward the shore at Tunnels Beach to board small boats used by volunteers help them escape the flood damage.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Many of the people I spoke to were frustrated with the lack of information and no sign of military assistance. A few hours later we started to see the National Guard flying overhead.

A Hawaii National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter crew surveys the flood damage in Haena after record rainfall hit Kauai’s North Shore.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

By this time, the private boats had already made two runs from Hanalei and back. Each boat was able to take about 10 people with a bag or two in tow.

Local residents used their personal boats to jumpstart the rescue efforts for flood victims stranded on the outer reaches of Kauai’s North Shore.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

I was then able to get on one of the boats back to Hanalei Bay, where I went ashore to talk to the folks involved with the rescue effort.

It was only a matter of minutes walking inland before I came across the flood damage next to Hanalei Pier, where a pile of vehicles, downed power lines and a public restroom had all fallen into a sinkhole at least 10 feet deep.

Vehicles and a public restroom were toppled by flood water and buried in sand near the entrance to Hanalei Pier.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Once I walked out onto the pier, I could see the National Guard’s Chinook landing to pick up more flood victims.

Hanalei rescue efforts underway with local volunteers and the National Guard.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

As I made my way into Hanalei, I walked past homes that had fallen off their stilts and into the sink holes that opened up during the flooding.

At least three homes along Hanalei Bay’s shoreline were pushed off their stilts due to high flood waters.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

After being in Hanalei for a few hours, I heard that crews had opened the road into the area. Hitchhiking out of Hanalei, I came across the heliport in Princeville where the county helicopters were dropping off flood victims.

Kauai County workers transport flood victims to safety after being trapped for two days.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

After getting back in my own vehicle at Anini Beach, I came across this sinkhole in Kilauea that was roughly 40 feet deep on both sides of the road, with the guardrail still intact. As I shot this photo, I could hear rocks hitting the water below, which meant the hole was still collapsing.

The ground fell out from under this guardrail in Kilauea.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

It was amazing to witness this tight-knit community coming together so quickly to help each other and visitors.

You can see more of my experiences with the local volunteers in my posts on Twitter.

Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to news@civilbeat.org and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. And you can still comment on stories on our Facebook page.

About the Author