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Overnight rains, but not winds, ease on Maui

    A Maui firefighter examines e a large ironwood tree that fell Friday morning near Kahului Harbor and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.

KAHULUI >> A flood advisory for the island of Maui was canceled just after 5 a.m. Friday as Tropical Storm Iselle continued to weaken after making landfall overnight on Hawaii island.

A flash flood watch is still in effect for Maui County until 6 a.m. Saturday.

“We don’t want people to let their guards down,” NWS meteorologist Mike Cantin said Friday morning.

The National Weather Service said flooding conditions are still possible on Maui, and warned the public not to cross flooded roadways or streams by vehicle or on foot.

Winds of 35  to 45 mph with higher gusts were expected to continue Friday on Mau. Cantin said gusts of up to 60 mph on Molokai and up to 50 mph on Lanai were recorded Friday morning.

“We have been fortunate that Iselle appears to have subsided a bit, but we’re still in a tropical storm warning and must remain vigilant as Hurricane Julio is right around the corner,” Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a news release.

Parts of Maui got soaked overnight, including in Pukalani, where 2.5 inches of rain was recorded overnight.

The heavy wind and rains toppled trees in Upcountry areas, closing roadways and knocking out power to some customers.

A tree came down along Olinda Road in Makawao around 7 p.m. Thursday, dragging down three power lines.

About 3,000 Upcountry customers lost power in Olinda, Piiholo, Pukalani and Haiku, according to Maui Electric Co. About 200 customers were still without power at around 5 a.m. Friday.

The outage affected the county’s water treatment plant Olinda, and Kula residents were being asked around 9 p.m. Thursday to conserve water because no new water could be generated until power is restored.

MECO said it restored power to about 480 customers in Kamalo on Molokai early Friday morning, after trees came down on Kamehameha V Highway around midnight.

Piiholo Road at Makawao Avenue remained closed Friday morning, along with Olinda Road between Pukiki and Hawea places due to downed trees.

Businesses across the island readied for the coming storm the day before. Shops and restaurants along Lahaina’s Front Street — which sits on the waterfront — were boarded up as well as some retailers in Wailea in South Maui and in Upcountry.

At midnight, 213 people had arrived to the eight evacuation shelters in Maui county.

By 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, Red Cross volunteers said about 60 people had checked in at Baldwin High School’s gymnasium, the only evacuation shelter set up in Central Maui.

Among the evacuees Thursday night were Nicolas Tiburzi and his wife, Adela Ordoqui, Argentina natives now living in Austin, Texas.

The couple arrived on Maui Tuesday for a vacation and said they first heard about the coming storms when they went to buy snow cones.

Tiburzi  said they hard a hard time finding clear information about the potential impact of the storm until Thursday, due in part to a lack of Internet and phone service at their Haiku rental they found on the website Airbnb.

“It’s like a small apartment. It’s not good for a hurricane. You can see the beach. We didn’t feel very safe,” Ordoqui said.

“This is our first actual storm,” Tiburzi added. “It’s our first time to Hawaii. We’re trying to keep this attitude, you know, positive, and look at it in the best way we can because if not, we’ll be sad.”

The couple had planned to visit Hawaii island next week.

“We booked a tent in Hilo with a mattress. Maybe it’s flying around right now,” Tiburzi said with a laugh.

“Normally it would be fantastic, but I don’t know if we will be able to go,” Ordoqui said.

Richard Thompson relocated to the Baldwin shelter from his campsite at Paia Beach Park on Maui’s north coast. He said he had heard about the storm and researched an evacuation plan by reading the local newspaper.

“Basically, I’m homeless now, but I’ve been on a camping trip around the island,” Thompson said. “I didn’t really want to be out in this storm.”

Public and private schools on Maui will remain closed Friday, as well as the University of Hawaii-Maui College campus. 

Nonemergency county and state offices were scheduled to remain closed Friday.

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