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HI floods damage homes

Flooding damaged at least 20 homes in several small northeastern Oahu villages.

BY HEATHER MOYER | PUNALUU, Hawaii | March 3, 2006

Flooding damaged at least 20 homes in several small northeastern Oahu villages Thursday as heavy rain drenched the area.

Nearly two feet of rain fell within 24 hours on the agricultural side of Oahu Island, said a spokesperson for state emergency management, and the entire extent of the damage is not yet known.

"These homes had between several inches and several feet of water in them," said Ray Lovell, public infornation officer for Hawaii State Civil Defense. "But there are many small roads that go off the main highway into valleys with steep walls and streams. We don't yet know how many other homes may have sustained damage."

Lovell said they have not yet received any reports of injuries or people being stranded. The hardest hit villages are Punaluu and Haula, but he noted that there are many small isolated homes scattered along the edges of the mountains in that area.

"We hope to fly into the area with the National Guard tomorrow to get a better idea of the damage," he explained. "We can't fly today due to the low clouds."

The heavy rain also caused numerous mudslides, bringing rocks and vegetation down the steep faces of the Koolau Mountains. Lovell said the governor has already declared a state of emergency for those affected to receive any needed financial aid.

The weather system causing the week's flooding is the same type that always causes these problems, added Lovell. The upper level low pressure system dropped between 12 and 15 inches of rain within 48 hours on other areas. Even parts of Maui and Hawaii saw minor flood damage from the system.

Lovell said two shelters were opened for the residents near Punaluu and Haula, but both were empty this morning. "Most folks will stay with their relatives or friends when these things happen," he noted.

More rain is predicted for the islands this weekend. Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for much of the already flooded areas.


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