Maui News

Kaupakalua Farm House on Maui Swept Away by Flood: “There’s Literally No Trace”

By Wendy Osher
March 9, 2021, 1:49 PM HST
* Updated March 9, 5:19 PM
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Five people are among those displaced after a torrent of water and mud swept away a five-bedroom farm house and heavily damaged another shed dwelling on the same Maui property Monday afternoon.

“There’s literally no trace of the farm house,” said Sylvia Cenzano who lives in a separate main house on the 9.2 acre Haʻikū parcel with her 87-year-old mother, her nearly 17 year old son, and two other community residents.

The main house where she resides is on higher ground and was still standing, but when emergency crews checked the property on Monday night, there was no trace of the nearby farm house or a 20 foot steel container used for storage, according to Cenzano.

“The farm house is nowhere in sight… All the plants and trees from the embankment are gone. All I see is evidence of one length of electrical conduit,” said Cenzano in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The property is located at 1120 Kaupakalua Road, about 2.8 miles mauka of the Kaupakalua Dam that overflowed on Monday afternoon.

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A bridge on the property, located near the main house was also washed away.

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“I went out to move cars… but by the time I was done, I couldn’t get back across the bridge,” said Cenzano, who wanted to get back to her mother and another resident who stayed back. The main house is now only accessible by foot by crossing through a wooded hill on the neighbor’s property.

“The river from across the street had come up over the road and formed a huge swirling pond of water that was pouring down the driveway,” she said.

In the 14 years Cenzano has lived at the property, she said she’s never experienced the type of flooding that occurred on Monday. “I’ve seen flooding, yes; but nothing like this. The parking lot was under 3-4 feet of water,” said Cenzano.

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Cenzano is the founder of the nonprofit Mālamalama, a sustainability training center for youth that educates and empowers participants in life skills, agriculture, community living and personal development. The group’s farm is known as Kolealea.

Finding herself now on the side needing help, Cenzano said it’s been humbling. “There’s been a beautiful outpouring,” from friends and community members who have been checking in. “When things like this happen, we have to live with an open heart and open mind… often times there are blessings and you have to stay open to see them,” she said.

Cenzano said total losses are around $340,000. This includes the loss of the farm house and its contents. She notes that a 50 foot tree had fallen on the front part of the home about two month ago and was taped off for repairs.

There were also five cars that were washed away, valued at about $10,000 each and cost of the foot-bridge is estimated at $15,000. While the homes are insured for damages from a hurricane, they are not covered for flood damage.

An assessment of the farm this morning also revealed loss of two sheds with tools, two other sheds that had just been put up, and the 20-foot steel shipping container that was full of items.

A Gofundme account has been set up here.

At least a half dozen homes were heavily damaged or destroyed, according to Mayor Michael Victorino who described the event as “unprecedented flooding.” He urged the public to remain vigilant and stay safe as damage assessments continue today.

  • Before image of farm house that was swept away in flood. (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • Foot bridge that was washed away in Kaupakalua flood. (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • Kaupakalua flood (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • Kaupakalua flood (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • Kaupakalua flood (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • Kaupakalua flood (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
  • After image of farm house that was swept away in flood. (3.8.21) PC: courtesy Sylvia Cenzano.
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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