UDPATE: 14 Stranded by Flood Waters on Maui Airlifted to Safety

March 21, 2016, 3:09 PM HST · Updated March 22, 5:11 AM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments
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UPDATE:7:31 p.m. 3/21/16

A total of 14 individuals were airlifted to safety when they became stranded during a flash flood at Makamakaʻole Gulch (located along the Kahekili Highway between Waiheʻe and Kahakuloa) on Monday afternoon.

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    The incident was reported at 2:49 p.m. by a resident, whose home overlooks the gulch. Authorities say the individual called 9-1-1 after hearing cries for help.

    Maui Fire Captain Rylan Yatsushiro said Engine 1 personnel arrived on scene to hear victims calling for help and Air 1 arrived shortly after to commence the extraction of victims.

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    It was initially reported that there were 13 victims, but it was later confirmed by fire crews that there were 14 individuals total that were airlifted to a safe landing zone along the Kahekili Highway.

    Two 64 year old visitors were transported by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center with minor injuries.  All others were reported to be uninjured, according to Capt. Yatsushiro.

    With all parties safely accounted for, crews were able to leave the scene at approximately 5:08 p.m.

    According to department reports, the hikers were in two separate groups located in different areas within the gulch.  Of the 14 victims, 7 were visitors from the US Mainland and 7 were local Maui residents.

    The Maui Fire Department urges the public to view the safety information and recommendations regarding flash flooding at this link to the County of Maui website.

    Engine 1 from Wailuku, Rescue 10 aboard Air 1, as well as Medic units responded to the scene.

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    Fire crews have been dispatched to a report of at least 13 individuals trapped by flood waters at Makamakaʻole near the Waiheʻe Ridge Trail between Waiheʻe and Kahakuloa shortly before 3 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2016.

    Initial reports indicate that the group was being rescued after becoming stranded by rising water.

    By 4:24 p.m., firefighters had rescued 10 individuals.  Reports indicate that crews were still making checks for one more individual that was unaccounted for downstream and two more individuals upstream were being rescued as well.

    Crews continue their response with the assistance of the department’s Air-1 and Air-2 helicopters, as well as Engine 1 out of Wailuku.

    Maui is currently under a Flood Advisory until 5:30 p.m., and forecasters say that it may need to be extended if heavy rain persists.

    The National Weather Service issued the advisory at 2:34 p.m. saying radar indicated nearly stationary heavy showers along windward portions of the West Maui Mountains, from Kahakuloa to Waiheʻe to Wailuku.

    An updated at 3:50 p.m. indicates that moderate rain continues to fall over the windward slopes of the West Maui Mountains, but rainfall rates are gradually easing, according to the NWS.

    The NWS update notes that rainfall continues to be focused upslope from Waiheʻe and Kahakuloa, including over the Waiheʻe Ridge Trail.

    Locations in this advisory include but are not limited to: Wailuku, Waiehu, Kahakuloa and Waiheʻe.

    *Check back for further details and updates, which will be posted as updates become available.

    Fire crews respond to a water rescue at Makamakaʻole Gulch. Photo credit: Paul Goodman.

    Fire crews respond to a water rescue at Makamakaʻole Gulch. Photo credit: Paul Goodman.

    Fire crews respond to a water rescue at Makamakaʻole Gulch. File photo from Kahekili Highway looking toward Waiheʻe by Wendy Osher.

    Fire crews respond to a water rescue at Makamakaʻole Gulch. File photo from Kahekili Highway looking toward Waiheʻe by Wendy Osher.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: Becky Nakagawa.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: Becky Nakagawa.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: Becky Nakagawa.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: Becky Nakagawa.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: TJ Cordero.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: TJ Cordero.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: TJ Cordero.

    Makamakaʻole rescue. Photo credit: TJ Cordero.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Photo credit: Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety.

    Wendy Osher
    Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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