Storm Aftermath

Monday’s storm was really intense, but as the previous week, the normal weather came back fairly quickly. By Tuesday, there was hardly any rain on the coast, Wednesday and Thursday being almost sunny. It did rain more inland, and this created more run-off, but nothing like Monday’s fury.

First, some YouTube videos that are finally getting uploaded after the storm, starting with Opaeka’a falls and some other very temporary waterfalls:

You know, I did go looking for the waterfalls I had once seen on Nounou, but there were always too many clouds in the way.

Then there are the kids that found a wet hill to surf on. East-side residents can probably guess where this is:

And finally, what it was like to drive in the rain. I’ve seen more than one video where the driver is filming, but we’ll assume they were driving slowly to begin with.

That last one is rather telling, because the main damage from the storm was the closure of the Kapa’a Bypass due to a large culvert being eroded and undermining the roadway (photo at The Garden Island)–I wonder how many people drove over it in that condition. The state is working quickly to repair the culvert (HDOT has a release with photos) and reopen the road by next week.


In the meantime, the closure is causing bad traffic on the main road, because inland Kapa’a traffic to the Kawaihau and Kapahi neighborhoods (half the Kapa’a population) is stuck on the main road. Count on at least an extra 20-30 minutes to get through Kapa’a, both northbound and southbound at rush hour. At least in Hawaii, you get rainbows with your traffic jams:


There is another road closure on the main highway in Kilauea, again caused by a culvert eroding. That one took out half of the roadway, but they have a small detour in place and less traffic.

I did get out for the farmer’s market, and took Kamalu road behind the Sleeping Giant to avoid the traffic. I could tell I wasn’t the only person on the back roads. Do watch out for muddy spots where water washed some dirt over the road.

OlohenaRoadPotholes Another effect of the storm were all the pot holes in the roads from the extensive runoff. Once the water gets in a crack in the pavement, it washes away the dirt and digs a hole underneath.

Since I was out and about, I got some photos of the storm aftermath. Water was still flooding the side-streets down by the Coconut marketplace on Wednesday, but by today, there were only little lakes in the low-lying grass:




On the road to Lihue, the low lying areas around the county jail were flooded, including their vegetable gardens and outside exercise yard. You can see the drainage ditch in the forground overflowing.


On Kuamo’o Road, I stopped to see Opaeka’a falls again. The flow was somewhat diminshed, and the water no longer so brown, but the things to notice in this picture are the trees in between the two flows that were washed over and hanging on by their roots.


Driving up Olohena Road, we were treated to this nice waterfall. Most of the water from this little stream is diverted into an irrigation ditch, so it’s usually just a trickle. And this area wasn’t even visible until they cleared out all the hau bush a few years ago.


And here’s the irrigation ditch diversion just upstream. Like all the little streams in the area, the vegetation got scoured and the mud banks were eroded one or two feet higher than the normal flow.


I went all the way up to the arboratum, but of course the truck in the water had already been removed. Flow was still high, almost as deep as a tire, which is still probably enough to push a car off the crossing. Heed the signs, people:


Another consequence of the flood seems to be the stream gauge further inland on the other branch of the Wailua river. It stopped recording even before Monday’s huge peak, and the graph shows a malfunction indicator. I guess we’ll never really know the actual height of the water, unless somebody goes to read it off the markings on the trees.

Source: USGS stream gauge data

On my way back down, it was getting dark, but I noticed that the Coco Palms lagoons were overflowing and flooding the entire grounds. They do have a sluice gate to let out more water, but I suppose that would then flood the other buildings by the river, ones that are actually being used (thrift store, kayak rentals, and canoe club). Better to let the unoccupied buildings be flooded. CocoPalmsFlooded1
CocoPalmsFlooded2 I think you can see the canoe docks under water at the top of this image.

Finally, I wanted to check on the rock pools at Lydgate. They were not as full of large debris as I imagined, because it looks like the storm swell overflowed the pools on the south side by the beach and carried away some of the branches.

However, both large and small pools were full of dark silt and the beaches partly covered in black mulch. LydgatePools1
LydgatePools2 Another effect of the storm was that the beach itself was eroded from the runoff. I think some of the sand at the Lydgate pools is man-made, or at least replenished by truck, and a lot of it washed down into the water, leaving gullies in the underlying dirt.

Overall, the damage in the aftermath of the storm was minor. Some roads are being repaired, some people in Hanalei have real flood damage, and I do have some leaks in my roof to deal with. But for the size of the storm and amount of water that flowed, it seems like it could’ve been much worse. I expected to hear people talking about how they made it through, but instead most of the people I overheard were talking about the next storm already, due on Friday. We shall see.

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  1. Trevor says:

    Thanks for the coverage Andy. We are arriving there on Tuesday with our 4 year old twins. We are staying at the Aloha at Lydgate Park and are obviously worried about the condition of the park and the beach. Any info you might have would be helpful. You have been very helpful in the past.

  2. Andy says:

    Hi Trevor, there was supposed to be a cleanup at the Lydgate pools yesterday, but I don’t know how much they could do. The sediment in the water is very fine, and I’m not sure what they can do about the missing sand. That’s always a problem when the natural shoreline is modified, even for the benefit of the public.

    Nor am I sure if the playground is affected by the sewage spill at Lydgate. I did avoid that area the other day and took my daughter to the play-bridge at the south end of the park (it’s about a 15 minute walk or a 1 minute drive from your hotel). Reports are that the ocean is clear and swimmable in Poipu, so all is not lost. But it is winter, the weather is unpredictable.

  3. Ellen says:

    Andy, just found your blog and have really enjoyed it. One thing I wish is that you’d break your “no politics” rule to tell us a little about the local situation. Sure seems (from reading the Garden Island) that there’s an old boy network of immense proportions on Kauai; wish there was a way to learn more about it and how much it impacts everyday life before making life-changing plans involving life there.

  4. Andy says:

    Hi Ellen, thanks for reading. I wrote the no politics rule back when I started this blog, thinking any blog would draw out the trolls. But my interests are just little niches on the internet, readership is low, and I haven’t had to censor any political comments. I was mainly concerned about liberal/conservative and Democrat/Republican mud-slinging spilling over from mainland politics.

    Here on Kaua’i, we don’t have political parties so much as clans and local personalities. And I can’t go into too much detail, because I honestly don’t know anything about them, or rather anything definitive or original. All I know I get from reading The Garden Island newspaper and the always excellent Kaua’i Eclectic blog. Neither of these are unbiased or flawless, but they keep me informed, and sometimes prompt me to get involved.

    Yes, I keep hearing about the “good ol’ boys” who supposedly run things, but in my mind, they are just the entrenched majority. You can’t move to a new place and expect to have things your way. Any of the alleged discrimination, corruption, and power-plays are probably statistically insignificant, the same as for humans anywhere in any political system and power structure. As for how it impacts everyday life, it totally depends on what your life is like. If you are itching to be politically active, you will certainly run up against it. Same goes if you are planning on doing business of some sort, because money is power and vice-versa. On the other hand, there are plenty of business and civic clubs that are oriented towards community service, so you could be totally active in other fields. Just remember that everybody knows everybody and runs into them in the check-out line—better not to make enemies.

    Granted, it’s a small island, the stakes are sometimes small, and the political issues sometimes seem made up. Kaua’i politics could be summarized as a tempest in a teacup, except if it gets out of hand, and the teacup breaks, we’ll all be more than sorry. So to editorialize just a bit, I suppose I follow the politics to make sure development isn’t running rampant, and that the local governement is doing what it can to protect Kaua’i from becoming the next Maui.

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