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Hawaii News

Crews fan out to assess storm damage in Hilo

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    Crews are being sent across East Hawaii island to assess storm damage. Flooding cut off access Thursday at the 200 block of Kaiulani Street in Hilo as Hurricane Lane delivered heavy rain, road closures and landslides to the Big Island.

Four damage assessment crews fanned out across East Hawaii for a third day Tuesday to try to gauge the harm done to homes, businesses and public facilities by Hurricane Lane during six days of heavy-to-­torrential rainfall last week.

The National Weather Serv­ice reports Lane dumped 52.02 inches of rain on Mountain View in Puna from 8 a.m. Aug. 22 until Monday at 8 a.m., apparently setting a rainfall record for a tropical cyclone for Hawaii. The previous record was set on Kauai in 1950, when 52 inches fell during Hurricane Hiki.

The Hilo neighborhood of Waiakea Uka had 49.48 inches of rain during the same period, while Piihonua in Hilo saw 48.13 inches fall.

The rain triggered landslides up and down the Hamakua Coast that closed the major road between Hilo and Waimea, and destroyed at least two homes in Hawaiian Acres in Puna, according to Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder. Dozens of people had to be rescued from flooded homes or vehicles Friday and Saturday.

Snyder said there were no estimates available yet from the damage assessment teams on how many homes were flooded, or the dollar value of the damage that was done.

The storm also overwhelmed three sewage pump stations, causing more than 9 million gallons of untreated wastewater to spill into Hilo Bay or nearby coastal waters.

Three Hilo parks remained closed Tuesday because of storm damage, including Puueo Community Center at 145 Wainaku St., Carvalho Park &Piihonua Gymnasium at 850 Waianuenue Ave., and the Hilo Bayfront soccer fields.

Mayor Harry Kim has also said many roads and bridges were damaged by the the flooding, and Snyder said the damage assessment teams were also inspecting public infrastructure.

The assessments will help authorities determine whether the state, county or individual homeowners might qualify for federal disaster aid.

Snyder said three teams made up of about a dozen volunteers each have arrived from the mainland to help homeowners to “muck out” their houses, including crews from the veterans group Team Rubicon, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization and a disaster relief organization called All Hands and Hearts.

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