HONOLULU — Weather officials downgraded flash flood alerts in Hawaii on Friday after more rain on the island of Kauai added to flooding left behind by last weekend’s deluge. On Friday, the state Health Department deployed a medical team to Kauai to offer assistance to flood victims in the hardest-hit areas amid fears about dirty water, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports.
“Those floodwaters are going to be dirty and of concern for a long time,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, who heads up the Kauai District Health Office. She said people should regularly wash with soap and fresh water after coming into contact with floodwaters and cover any open sores or cuts.
The National Weather Service lifted a flash flood warning for Kauai and a flash flood watch across the Hawaiian islands. But because the ground is still saturated in many areas, forecasters say it doesn’t take much rain to trigger flash flooding, KGMB reports.
The north shore town of Hanalei saw 28.1 inches of rainfall between 2 a.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday. Weather officials say it was likely record-breaking rain, but the rain gauge there stopped working.
Nearby Wainiha saw moderate rain Thursday night – 2.5 inches over a 12-hour period, said Ian Morrison, a meteorologist with the weather service.
The National Weather Service said just before 4:15 a.m., gauge reports along the Hanalei River indicated a rapid rise in water level — up to seven feet, KGMB reports. Radar also showed a spot of heavy rain over the interior section of the island.
Kauai saw some sunshine Friday as residents cleaned up after flooding left people stranded in a shelter that became surrounded by water, washed houses off their foundations and scattered bison from a farm.
Crews worked to clear more than a dozen landslides on Kuhio Highway along the island’s north shore. It will be several weeks before there will be access to some communities. The Hawaii Department of Transportation said officials expect to open a one-lane route to Wainiha and Haena for emergency access on May 7, according to KGMB.
Nearly 500 people have been airlifted from flooded areas since Monday.
The additional rain compounded the stress of coping with the aftermath, Hanalei resident Gayla Spencer said.
Spencer and her family were in the process of moving when the weekend storm hit, so their belongings were in the garage in boxes. All those items were ruined, she said.
“It’s OK, it’s just materialistic things that can be replaced,” she said.
What’s more devastating, Spencer said, is that a landslide covered a local graveyard where her sister and other family members are buried.
“It’s a delicate situation,” she said.
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