comscore Emergency shelters slowly filling up as Darby passes by
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Emergency shelters slowly filling up as Darby passes by

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    A moped rider negotiates the rain and vehicular traffic to cross a wet and busy Keeaumoku Street near King Street on Saturday.

Only two of Oahu’s seven emergency shelters had any shelterees by about 10 a.m. today as Tropical Storm Darby continued to bring strong wind and rain to the western half of the island chain.

About 150 French students, who had been camping in the Malaekahana area, were staying at the Brigham Young University-Hawaii shelter, an American Red Cross spokeswoman said.

At McKinley High School’s gymnasium, the only person staying at the shelter was Josie Salazar, a Portland, Ore. resident. She said she went to the shelter after Kualoa Ranch, where she had been camping, closed to campers on Saturday morning because of the coming storm.

Salazar said she called numerous hotels and hostels on Saturday, but all said they were sold out. After waiting out part of the night at a cafe, she heard about the McKinley shelter from people at a McDonald’s in town and showed up about 7 a.m.

“It’s an adventure,” she said.

The center of the storm was about 40 miles south of Honolulu about 11:45 a.m., moving northwest at 9 mph, the National Weather Service said. Darby was passing south of Oahu and expected to weaken to a tropical depression tonight or Monday.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect for Maui to Niihau with the possibility of very heavy rain and flash flooding. Local winds of 20 to 35 mph can be expected to the east of Darby, with some gusts of 45 mph or greater. Total storm rainfall is expected to be 6 to 10 inches with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches, the Weather Service said.

Tropical storm force winds, which are greater than 39 mph, are extending about 80 miles from the center.

Darby is likely to pass Oahu sometime tonight, said Maureen Ballard, a forecaster at the National Weather Service.

“The winds will also be doing some local effects, especially along those mountain streams where you will have some funneling,” Ballard said. “There’s a lot of factors in there so that’s why we want people to remain cautious and aware of their surroundings.

“Not only are we going to have some winds, they are probably going to be gusty winds.”

She said rainfall coming up towards Oahu from Maui will also be of concern. The combination of strong winds and heavy rains also increases the chance for property damage, downed trees, ponding or worse on the roads, she said.

“You don’t have to go out once it starts going downhill,” she said. “Hopefully, you’ve already done your prep, and you have something to eat at home.”

Ballard said wind gauges were showing strong winds on some parts of Oahu, such as 47 mph gusts at Oahu Forest Reserve in the northern Koolau Mountains. At the Kahuku training area, gusts were about 35 mph.

A flash flood watch for Big Island and Maui will end later today. A flash flood watch for Oahu and Kauai will continue through Monday morning.

A high surf advisory is also in effect for east-facing shores until 6 p.m. today.

At Ala Moana Beach Park, some homeless were waiting out the dizzly conditions before deciding whether to go to the evacuation shelter.

One man, who gave his first name Chuck, was sitting next to a large tent at the park about 9 a.m. and said service providers came by earlier Sunday, informing him that buses were available to take him to a shelter if he needed. He said he was waiting for someone before deciding whether he would go to the shelter.

“It’s great,” he said of the emergency shelters. “It’s not just us that need it.”

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