HANALEI, Kauai — It’s like Dracula coming back and attacking after being staked in the heart.
Having been written off by the rest of the state, Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm-turned-Tropical Depression Lane spent Monday and Tuesday attacking Kauai with a ferocity most people hadn’t expected — even in a year in which it has seemed rain has been falling on the island continuously.
Starting over the weekend, but with a vengeance Monday, Lane created a deluge that, while not as intense on the North Shore as the disastrous April storm that saw record rainfall and flooding, brought much activity on the east side and North Shore to a grinding halt.
Emergency management officials announced a voluntary evacuation of two neighborhoods in Koloa town, which sustained heavy damage in the April storm. The county opened a shelter at the Koloa Neighborhood Center. Parts of Wailua and Polihale State Parks were closed. A previously issued flash flood watch was extended to at least mid-afternoon.
Kauai County officials said minor flooding had been reported on highways islandwide.
“I’m not gonna lie; it ain’t good,” said Claudia Cowden, of Hanalei, who watched her yard filling up with water in much the same way it did during the April storm.
Flooding at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday on Kuhio Highway in Hanalei near the Dolphin restaurant. Extended closure of the highway in this area was expected.
Hawaii Department of Transportation
As of late Tuesday morning, the Hanalei River bridge, which had been closed all night, was still shut down; the local elementary school was closed; convoys that escort residents of the area west of Hanalei that was most devastated in April had been suspended indefinitely, and repair work on the highway was on hold for the duration.
One of the last convoys that made the shuttle journey Monday had to stop when it encountered flooding on Kuhio Highway, forcing a wait of several hours until the water briefly receded. There were no reports of serious injuries.
Video posted on social media showed the entrance to Haena State Park under at least 2 feet of water. Large areas of the taro fields that abut Hanalei were under water. Residents were moving cars to higher ground as yards filled like swimming pools.
“I’m not gonna lie; it ain’t good.” — Claudia Cowden, Hanalei resident
Larry Dill, the state Department of Transportation chief engineer for Kauai, said it isn’t known yet if any of the reconstruction sites along the highway had been further damaged by the new storm. All work was called off starting Monday and Dill said an inspection to look for fresh damage won’t be possible until after Lane passes.
The storm damage by Tuesday was “surprisingly close” to Hanalei, said Joel Guy, president of the Hanalei-Haena Community Association. But, he said, “no evacuations yet.” Still, Guy clearly spoke for many residents, for whom the new storm rekindled fear and sadness that grew out of the April event. “Those wounds are still fresh,” he said.
Video posted by Kauai County showed Hanalei in a condition surprisingly similar — though not as extreme — to the April flooding. The building housing the Dolphin Restaurant, two galleries and a clothing store, which was under as much as 6 feet of water in April, saw waters rising to within about a foot of inundation again.
Volunteer rain observers for the nonprofit Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, had reported 36.49 inches of rain in Hanalei on April 15. They reported totals of 10.27 inches for the 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m. Tuesday. But in nearby Kilauea, the death throes of Lane left 6.6 inches of rain Tuesday, where just 5.25 inches fell April 15.
Farther east, floating trees and other debris were accumulating under the Wailua River bridge more slowly than during the dangerous clogging of April. In Anahola, where much of the community was submerged in April, the Anahola Stream remained within its banks, but barely.
Motorists had to cope with extremely heavy rainfalls Monday and through early Tuesday afternoon from Lihue all the way to where Kuhio Highway was closed just east on Hanalei. The Kauai Emergency Management Agency issued repeated flash flood warnings and watches most of Monday, through the night and early Tuesday. A water level gauge on the Hanalei River showed depths of as much as more than 14 feet. Anything higher than 8 feet triggers the process of shutting down the highway.
Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to firstname.lastname@example.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.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
A note to our readers
While asking for your support is something we don’t like to do, the simple fact is that our reporters, our journalism, and our impact rely on it. Since lifting our paywall and becoming a nonprofit in mid-2016, our local newsroom has benefitted from a stream of charitable support from people who want our type of journalism to survive. People like you who understand that our work is essential to a better-informed community. If you value the work of our journalists, show us with your tax-deductible support.