Hawaii County Civil Defense officials have identified 23 homes and three business that suffered major flood damage as the approach of Hurricane Lane triggered a deluge of rain in East Hawaii. Three homes were destroyed, including two in the Puna subdivision of Hawaiian Acres.
Another 113 homes and 17 businesses suffered minor damage in the flooding that began Aug. 22, according to a tally kept at the Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.
However, Mayor Harry Kim said that as of Wednesday morning, inspection teams had only documented about 50 percent to 60 percent of the damage to homes in East Hawaii. Damage reports are still coming in, and assessment teams are in the field inspecting hard-hit areas, county officials said.
“That surprised me, but the reason for it is the calls are coming in now after (inspections teams) went through once, and then they have to go back,” Kim told his staff at a briefing Wednesday morning. “So if you are on that task, I know you’re tired of going back and doing things, but it is that important.”
The National Weather Service reported Lane dropped 52 inches of rain on Mountain View in Puna from 8 a.m. Aug. 22 until Monday at 8 a.m., which is believed to be 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 recorded 49.48 inches of rain during the same period, while Piihonua in Hilo saw 48.13 inches of rainfall.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William Brock Long visited Hilo on Wednesday, and told the Civil Defense staff that the assessment process is critical for qualifying for federal assistance.
“My advice to you is, leave no stone unturned,” Long said. “Let’s try to move as quickly as we can, but not rush the process, to make sure that you’re entitled to everything that can come down from the federal government in the future. Make sure that we do that right.”
He also urged state, county and federal officials to “make sure that we can capture the lessons learned on how we can better the relationship from the local government all the way up to the federal government.”
County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said people whose homes or property sustained damage from Lane and its aftermath should call the disaster hotline at 643-5555.