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More than 200 airlifted to safety after flooding on Kauai

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Weke Road in Hanalei, Kauai, was overwhelmed by flood waters this weekend.

Emergency responders rescued more than 200 people by helicopter today after they were stranded on Kauai’s North Shore following a severe storm that walloped the island this weekend.

Sarah Blane, Kauai County spokeswoman, said by phone that rescuers airlifted 212 people from Wainiha and Haena after they were cut off from the rest of the island by landslides on Kuhio Highway past Hanalei Bay. Rescuers took them to Kilauea Gym in Hanalei.

She said most of those rescued were visitors and had no running water or electricity since the weekend. In addition, county buses shuttled 121 people from the Hanalei Elementary School to Princeville today after crews finished repairs to Hanalei Bridge.

• See our photo gallery for more images of flooding on Kauai.

Those bussed out included about 60 people who were staying at a Red Cross shelter at Hanalei Elementary School and others who showed up after hearing the county was bussing people out of the area.

At about 5 p.m., rescue efforts were winding up for the day, but they were expected to resume Tuesday for people still stranded on the North Shore. Crews airlifting people were also planning to continue bringing in provisions to those areas.

The county said the National Guard, Coast Guard, Kauai Fire Department, Kauai Police Department, and American Red Cross are helping to bring water and supplies into those areas.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said county, state, and federal agencies were working with volunteers from across the state to help those impacted by the flooding.

“We are slowly but surely getting food, water and medical supplies to those in need,” he said in a statement. “We are also working to clear the highways and roadways of mud and debris so that we can reopen public access where we are able.

“While we have a long road to recovery ahead of us, we are incredibly grateful for everyone who has stepped to the plate to help in one way or another,” he continued.

Kauai warned that it was unclear when those who request to be evacuated can return as landslides continue to block Kuhio Highway between Waikoko and Wainiha. Water and food for residents in those areas can be picked up at Camp Naue.

Power outages still continue for Wainiha and Haena residents, but power has been restored to some in Hanalei.

The state Department of Transportation is working to clear mud and debris from at least eight landslides on Kuhio Highway.

Meanwhile, the Kalihiwai Reservoir has been inspected and deemed safe, allowing residents to return, the county said. Residents in low-lying areas of Kalihiwai Valley were evacuated Saturday afternoon as a precaution because the dam was nearing capacity.

The Department of Education said Hanalei Elementary School will remain closed Tuesday to allow for cleanup and repair. The school will reopen Wednesday.

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