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HI-EMA: Flood threat from Wahiawa Reservoir subsides

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A nearby resident, who did not want to be identified, checks out Wahiawa Reservoir which was less than two feet below flood stage today after days of rain from a “kona low” storm system.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

A nearby resident, who did not want to be identified, checks out Wahiawa Reservoir which was less than two feet below flood stage today after days of rain from a “kona low” storm system.

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / FEB. 8, 2019
                                Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management director Hirokazu “Hiro” Toiya
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / FEB. 8, 2019

Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management director Hirokazu “Hiro” Toiya

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / JULY 13
                                Wahiawa Reservoir is nearing its maximum level after a day of heavy rain Thursday. The reservoir is seen here in July with its dam to the left.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / JULY 13

Wahiawa Reservoir is nearing its maximum level after a day of heavy rain Thursday. The reservoir is seen here in July with its dam to the left.

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A nearby resident, who did not want to be identified, checks out Wahiawa Reservoir which was less than two feet below flood stage today after days of rain from a “kona low” storm system.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / FEB. 8, 2019
                                Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management director Hirokazu “Hiro” Toiya
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / JULY 13
                                Wahiawa Reservoir is nearing its maximum level after a day of heavy rain Thursday. The reservoir is seen here in July with its dam to the left.

UPDATE: 2:25 p.m.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials said the threat of flooding from the Wahiawa Reservoir has subsided as the rain showers that soaked Oahu for days move toward Kauai.

The reservoir had risen to within two feet of flood stage before leveling off around midday.

“The National Weather Service has reported that the worst of the weather system for Oahu has passed,” said a statement from HI-EMA officials. “Reservoir levels have risen, and streams have reached their crests, but overall, the threat level has diminished.”

They said emergency management official were prepared “for various contingencies.”

“According to the NWS, the weather system is now moving toward Kauai,” the HI-EMA statement said. “Water gauges on Oahu indicated increased levels, but the infrastructure, including spillways, has functioned effectively, with the support of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Honolulu Fire Department, and the Department of Transportation.”

“Our attention is now shifting to Kauai, which is expected to face the brunt of the weather system over the next 12 hours. Agencies and services are focusing their resources and efforts to prepare for the potential impact on the island,” HI-EMA officials said.

11:10 a.m.

The National Weather Service said that at 10:15 a.m. the Wahiawa Reservoir was just above 82 feet. If the level rises to the flood stage of 84 feet, it would prompt authorities to call for evacuations of nearby areas. The maximum level of the dam is 88 feet.

The Wahiawa area has seen up to 5 inches of rain over the last 24 hours, according to the weather service.

A week ago, before the arrival of the “kona low” system that has drenched the state this week, the reservoir was below 74 feet.

Wahiawa, like much of Oahu, has seen spotty showers this morning. The entire island remains under a flood advisory until 2 p.m. with forecasters saying at 11 a.m. that while the rain is decreasing, stream levels remain elevated.

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City and state officials are closely monitoring the Wahiawa Reservoir dam where the water has been climbing close to maximum levels as an ongoing “kona low” storm dumped heavy rain on Oahu Thursday.

Honolulu Emergency Management director Hiro Toiya said in an online news conference Thursday night that the dam was not at a level that would trigger evacuations of nearby communities. However the threat of more rain requires heightened vigilance as the island remains under a flood watch through Friday, he said.

At the 9:20 p.m. news conference, Toiya said the reservoir was at the 80-foot level and that evacuations would be required before the level reaches the dam’s 88-foot maximum.

He noted that “radar was looking favorable for that area” with much of the rain hitting East Oahu late Thursday night. However with the kona low system, “we could have rain anywhere on the island,” he said.

Toiya said officials are concerned about nearby Otake Camp in Waialua and that Honolulu police officers are in the area to monitor conditions and to update the community.

In addition to the city’s emergency management team, officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and reservoir owner Dole Food Co. are also monitoring the situation.

Toiya said that of the island’s 10 “high-risk” dams, Wahiawa is the only one that is a concern currently.

He encouraged residents to visit honolulu.gov/damevac and honolulu.gov/dem/preparedness/build-kit for more information.

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