Heavy rainfall hampers air rescue operations on Kauai
June 23, 2018 | 77° | Check Traffic

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Heavy rainfall hampers air rescue operations on Kauai

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Updated 11:00pm

The National Weather Service has extended the flash flood warning for the island of Kauai to 1:45 Monday morning.

Weather forecasters say although stream levels are trending downward and conditions improve, radar images show light to occasionally moderate rain continues to fall primarily over windward and interior sections of the island. They say the rainfall rate is less than a half an inch per hour.

Meanwhile, county officials report that they and state Department of Transportation crews have opened more roadways. They include the south-bound lane of Kuhio Highway on the Wailua Bridge and both lanes of the Kaumualii Highway near the 7-Eleven store in Lawai and near Maluhia Road.

Kauai authorities are searching by air today for residents who need to be rescued after severe rainfall flooded the island.

But heavy rainfall was continuing to hamper search operations, and at about 11 a.m., the helicopters were grounded until heavy rainfall along the North Shore passed, said Kauai county spokeswoman Sarah Blane.

She said rescuers will continue rescue operations throughout the day as the weather allows.

The Kauai Fire Department is receiving assistance from the Coast Guard and the Honolulu Fire Department, which sent a helicopter to the island.

The American Red Cross has opened evacuation shelters at Kapaa Middle School, the Church of the Pacific in Princeville, and at Hanalei Elementary School.

This morning, about 40 people were staying at the shelter in Hanalei, said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, chief executive officer for the Red Cross in Hawaii.

Blane said county officials had to call in off-duty firefighters, police officers, and lifeguards Saturday night to rescue about a half-dozen people who were trapped by rising floodwaters in Hanalei on the North Shore.

She said rescuers used personal watercraft to bring the people to safety.

In the 24-hour period that ended at 10 a.m., Hanalei received 26.9 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Wainiha had 18.5 inches of rain and Mount Waialeale had 12.8 inches of rain.

The heavy rainfall damaged or flooded dozens of homes in Hanalei, Wainiha, Haena, and Anahola, the county said.

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