Leila Fujimori, Honolulu Star-Announcer
While Kauai was still under a flash flood watch overnight, Oahu began to dry out on Tuesday following an extreme winter storm that included record rainfall and winds that battered neighborhoods across the island on Monday. , after the counties of Maui and Hawaii.
People tried to salvage precious memories from their flooded homes and kindergartens at a primary school on Tuesday after they escaped on Monday when floodwaters swept through their classrooms.
Honolulu Fire Department crews responded to 90 flood-related incidents in 24 hours starting at 6 a.m. Monday, including 55 flooded homes, three swift water rescues and two vehicle extrications due to the flooding waters.
The fire department also responded to seven fallen trees, seven electrical shorts, six downed power lines, four blown roofs, four electrical wires and two landslides, including one that entered a home.
The city said a section of road near 4120 Round Top Drive will remain closed for an extended period after much of the roadway has been removed.
The Red Cross has closed all of its emergency shelters except one in Makaha and another in Keaau on the island of Hawaii.
The storm knocked out much of downtown Honolulu Monday, but Hawaiian Electric Co. officials were optimistic Tuesday that its crews could restore power to most customers by this morning. And he expected 70% of his downtown customers to get power back on Tuesday night.
All but two public schools were due to reopen today.
Twelve classrooms were affected by flooding at Pearl City Highlands Elementary School on Monday afternoon, but the school will reopen today for in-person learning except for eight classrooms.
They require more work and students who normally use them will spend this week in distance learning, including four kindergarten classes, two first grade and two special education classes, the Department of Education said.
Four classrooms were full of kindergarten children when floodwaters erupted around 1.30pm on Monday. Others had already been fired, the principal said.
Manager Zachary Sheets said: ‘Within five to 10 minutes our building E started to flood. One class had to wade in water up to their ankles.
The other classes managed to get out.
“There was so much rain at the time,” he said. “It doesn’t look like it’s exhausting. Even the drain above where this happened had water bubbling from it.
“I want to thank everyone for their quick actions,” he said. Everyone, including members of the administration, guards and teachers, came to lend a hand.
He said it would likely take weeks, if not months, to clean and replace anything porous, including classroom libraries, student materials, shelves and cabinets.
Pearl City resident Chandra Sugitaya said her great-niece said the students in her kindergarten class were standing on their desks and the teacher carried the students out of the classroom to safety.
Sugitaya, who lives just below the school, also suffered from the floods.
“Water squirted into the house twice,” Sugitaya said. “He was rushing into my house. Within a minute I saw water entering every bedroom and every bathroom.
“Once in a while it rains like this, but not for eight hours,” she added.
Six city trash cans and a 55-gallon drum from neighbors’ yards ended up in his, and water tore a bolted aluminum storage shed from its base.
A restoration expert told him that anything porous should probably be thrown out and that his company would cut three feet of drywall to determine how bad the framing was.
Although she lost almost everything, Sugitaya said the insurance probably wouldn’t cover anything because she and her husband hadn’t thought to buy flood insurance since the house is not in a flood zone.
She and her husband may have to rebuild their home, which was her grandmother’s house, due to damage from floodwaters rushing across the street from a neighbor’s yard, that flowed from the school.
Sugitaya blames clogged drains in the Old Quarter, which she describes as thick iron gratings. Once city crews cleared them, the water drained out, but Sugitaya said the drains would repeatedly clog after four heavy downpours.
Water flowed through Sugitaya’s yard on Moanalua Road and into the makai houses on this main thoroughfare.
The Noelani Street resident says the water was six inches deep in her home, which is built 2 feet above the ground.
Neighbors evacuated on Monday evening and she finally agreed to evacuate the house early Tuesday morning.
She refused to help clean up until she had time to sift through her belongings, including her childhood photo albums and her children’s graduation portraits.
“I don’t want to break down and cry when they’re with me,” she said, breaking into tears.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has urged residents to document the damage with video and photos for insurance purposes and in case funding becomes available to aid recovery.
The agency says there is no need to wait for a flood insurance adjuster or inspector to come before cleaning up, but warns people to be aware of hidden structural damage, avoid wading in flood waters, which may hide debris, contaminated with sewage or electrically charged.
Hawaiian Electric Co. crews had repaired two of three faulty transformers Tuesday afternoon to restore power to downtown Honolulu, which experienced a widespread outage late Monday to businesses and homes. This was due to flooding in the Iwilei substation, which damaged the transformers.
As of Tuesday morning, one had been repaired, allowing Hawaiian Electric to restore power to the State Capitol, State Office Building, City Municipal Building, Central Pacific Bank and First Hawaiian Bank, and others, said Hawaiian Electric spokeswoman Shannon Tangonan.
Another dozen buildings were to be restored by Tuesday evening.
“One of the stumbling blocks we encountered during the repair was that they discovered that we had 300 feet of damaged high voltage cable, requiring repair and splicing at both ends, he said. she stated.
“Under normal circumstances it takes three hours for a splice, but because we had so many people working on it, we were able to do it simultaneously,” she said.
She said another challenge was trying to pump out the floodwaters, which “kept coming and going”.
A supervisor reported that the entire area was filled with water and a manhole cover was floating.
Tangonan said the Iwilei substation was built 100 years ago, and although work has been done to create protective barriers, “the power grid is not storm proof” .
“We are doing our best to build a resilient network, but the landscape and the infrastructure have changed,” she said. “When you have something that’s 100 years old, you do your best to protect it.”
She said the company was aware of critical customers such as hospitals and nursing homes, which should have backup generators.
“We always want to make sure that we try to restore these critical facilities first,” Tangonan said. “It’s kind of how we prioritize restoration. We are their lifeline.
National Weather Service chief forecaster Joe Clark said the islands would return to a regular trade wind pattern for the next seven days. He said whenever a large low pressure system develops just west of the islands with southerly winds, “it exposes us to heavy rain.”
“Being in a La Nina year can stack the odds, but it can happen any year,” he said.
Unlike the middle of the continental United States where it takes a long time to fill a river basin and a long time to drain, Hawaii’s terrain lends itself to rapid onset of flash flooding.
The Kona Low brought a record 7.92 inches of rain to Honolulu on Monday, breaking the previous record of 4.11 inches in 1988. It was also the wettest December day on record, surpassing the previous record for single day of 7.89 inches. on December 12, 1987.
Star-Advertiser reporter Nina Wu contributed to this report.