The island of Kauai in Hawaii is the scene of a significant rescue and recovery effort today, less than 24 hours after an epic rainstorm brought catastrophic flooding to the northern part of the island. Upwards of 2-3 feet of rain fell in less than 24 hours, swamping coastal communities in raging flood waters. It’s possible more than 3 feet of rain fell; rain gauges failed and RADAR rainfall estimates are typically under-done in this environment. Today, the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, surveyed the devastated area by helicopter with military and county emergency resources.
“Damage is very extensive in this area,” Governor Ige said. “The immediate problem is access. Several landslides are blocking roads into the communities. Crews are working to restore access to the Hanalei District, but it will take some time. We are establishing landing zones for aircraft. The Hawai‘i National Guard has deployed two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, two CH-47 Chinooks, eight Zodiacs and more than 45 soldiers and airmen to support rescue efforts, and to get medical aid and necessary supplies to the area.” The Governor added, “I’m here on Kauai to support Mayor Carvalho, all of the Garden Island’s first responders, the Coast Guard and the National Guard. Other counties have also agreed to provide personnel and services as necessary. This is a statewide, collaborative effort to reestablish access and help this community in any way we can.” Islands in Hawaii make up the counties: Kauai, Oahu, Hawaii (Big Island), and Maui; Lanai and Molokai are part of Maui county.
Despite the considerable damage, there’s been no loss of life. Emergency rescue crews have evacuated 152 people by helicopter, 121 by bus and others by water since the flood waters surged out of their banks yesterday morning. At least two homes washed away into the ocean, with many more ripped from their foundation. Sinkholes and landslides dot the northern part of the island, making it tough to get to people isolated by the storm.
“We are working with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the governor’s office, the Coast Guard, and other partners to respond to the immediate safety needs for the people in the hardest-hit area between Hanalei and Haena,” said Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, who signed an emergency proclamation in the wake of the severe flooding. Hawaii Governor David Ige said he is committed to providing all available resources to helping island residents. “In a situation like the Kauai flooding, the response begins at the county level,” Ige said. “But we’re coordinating help from around the state. Based on the county’s needs, we may also bring in other state agencies like DLNR to provide specialized skills and personnel.”
The region hit hard by the floods is known for world-class accommodations, luxury condos, a variety of AirBNBs, campgrounds, farms, and close-knit communities. In addition to stunning resorts and incredible views, the stretch of land being impacted is also home to many high-profile residents. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has a 700 acre sea-side compound in an area that saw more than 15 inches of rain in less than 10 hours. South Park creator Trey Parker also lives in Wailua, where RADAR estimates at least 6″ of rain fell.