Maui News

Maui Mayor Calls Kaupakalua Flooding Event “Unprecedented”

March 9, 2021, 8:56 AM HST
* Updated March 9, 11:44 AM
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Damage assessment is ongoing this morning following heavy rains on Monday that resulted in an overflowed dam at Kaupakalua.

County officials report that flood waters yesterday destroyed Peʻahi Bridge and heavily damaged Kaupakalua Bridge in Haʻikū.

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.

Residents who were evacuated from their homes yesterday are asked not to return until there is an “all clear” announcement. The evacuation remains in effect for residents in the vicinity and downstream of Kaupakalua Dam.

The heavy rains also washed out a portion of Awalau Road in Haʻikū, which is located mauka of the dam. Residents say there was a destructive flow in a small riverbed that wiped out a portion of the road near Hikiau Road, East of Hanzawa’s Variety Store. Residents located above the 500 block of Awalau are reportedly affected.

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People also are advised to stay off roads as much as possible and exercise extreme caution, watching out for debris and landslides.

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Also, beware of possible downed power lines. Stay at least 30 feet away from downed power lines and assume they are energized and dangerous. Reports of downed lines should be made by calling Hawaiian Electric’s trouble line at 871-7777.

A power outage was reported today in Haʻikū at 6:12 a.m., affecting more than 1,300 customers.

East Maui Irrigation Co. officials monitored the Kaupakalua Reservoir overnight. Water levels remained above normal, but roughly 3 feet below the top of the dam.

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Shan Tsutsui, chief operating officer, Mahi Pono, a company that is part owner of the dam said, “As rainfall continued overnight, our team monitored water levels at the Kaupakalua Reservoir and Dam and provided hourly update reports on water levels to the Maui Emergency Management Agency. While the levels exceeded peak capacity and caused over-topping of the dam yesterday afternoon, over-topping ceased in the early evening and has not reoccurred. 

This morning, the company did a visual inspection of the Kaupakalua Reservoir and Dam at approximately 10 a.m.  “At that time, water levels are still high but over-topping has stopped. We will continue to monitor the situation until it returns to a safe level,” he said.

“At this time, we are not aware any property damage that occurred due to the over-topping.  However, this does not diminish the damage caused in the surrounding community located mauka of the reservoir by the overwhelming and unprecedented rainfall here on Maui,” said Tsutsui.

Waikina Loop, Haʻikū. (3.8.21) PC: Zach B.

An evacuation shelter at Pāʻia Community Center remained open as of 7 a.m. today. Shelters at Hāna High School and Eddie Tam Memorial Center were closed.

To report any storm-related damage, go to the County of Maui home page at mauicounty.gov and fill out a damage report form. Or, call the Maui Emergency Management Agency at 270-7285.

Yesterday, all Maui island parks were closed because of flooding and heavy rains. Most Maui County parks on the island of Maui have reopened this morning. The only county parks that remain closed are Baldwin Beach Park and Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens in ʻĪao Valley.

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