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What the Rains Brought

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
Mar 07, 2012

Is it irony or the fickle finger of fate that a Disaster Preparedness Guide arrived in my mailbox today, a day after the governor of Hawaii declared Kauai and Oahu Counties disaster zones?

But it is sunny today. Right now. On Kauai. In Anahola.

Glory be. Hallelujah. Amen.

When the sun’s rays bent around the horizon this morning, I actually saw them. The sun glared in my eyes, and I didn’t blink, just raised my face skyward. I even felt the warmth of the sun’s touch as I walked the dogs in our squishy yard. See, I knew the sun had continued to shine this whole time. That a few atmospheric goings-on had simply gotten in the way, like how some heads can block the view of the movie screen at the theater.

The rain didn’t quit altogether on Kauai yesterday. It came in fits and starts, but the worst of it had moved on. To Oahu. And while they may not have received as much rain as Kauai, it doesn’t take much to cause even greater challenges on an island with an urban center the likes of Honolulu. (Check out this slide show from Hawaii News Now for that.)

I snuck out of the house yesterday--wearing my snazzy rain boots inspired by an artsy cowgirl. Rain still fell on the North Shore. The bridge at Hanalei was still closed, for the third day, due to severe flooding in Hanalei Valley, and Big Save closed because not enough employees showed up for work. The detour around a collapsed culvert just south of Kilauea still backed up traffic in both directions--for hours, I heard from a friend on Facebook, who spent the morning riding out the storm at Kilauea Bakery and the afternoon at Lighthouse Bistro.

But I’d also seen a photo posted to Facebook by Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation proclaiming sunny skies over Poipu, and Ipo, a man who works with my husband, said Lihue’s skies had returned to its regular shade of bright blue, and I wanted to investigate.

I stopped at the Anahola post office. The overhead lights didn't work, but electricity still flowed through the outlets, so the cash register worked, and it was business as usual there.

I dodged newly dredged up pot holes in the road and made my way to Kapaa.

I saw one runner on the coastal path on the East Side. 

At the coffee shop, the man behind me said he couldn’t make it home to Princeville the night before because the bridge was closed at Kalihiwai. At first, it was a waterfall overflowing the road adjacent to the bridge that closed it for a time. Then, the bridge couldn’t drain the water fast enough. Finally, a rock fall and downed trees closed the bridge and access in and out of Princeville indefinitely.

The Kapaa by-pass road was closed, and it took 40 minutes to drive through Kapaa.

At Opaekaa Falls, I ran into an old friend, Amber. Like many other kamaaina, she was checking out the waterfalls that had received much media and Facebook attention.

The Wailua River was chocolate brown, so I drove to Lydgate Beach Park, the usual repository for trees and fence rows and, even, animal carcasses that get sucked down the raging river as the waters rise and eat up banks and anything in its way. Sure enough, the coastline was lined with tree branches and trunks and, even, entire trees bigger around than I could wrap my arms. Brown water reached out into the ocean as far as I could see. But a complete rainbow arced overhead, looking like it stretched from the Lihue Airport all the way to my home in Anahola.

At Coconut Marketplace, I stopped to see where stand up paddlers had made the news the night before. They’d, apparently, mistaken the flooded parking lot for the ocean.

I drove north to Kilauea where the blue skies gave way to grey, and my windshield wipers slapped time. My dog, her head hanging out the window, enjoyed a face wash. A bicyclist, with a guitar strapped to his back and wearing a pair of earbuds, sang a song I couldn’t hear. Highway crewin yellow rain slickers were building a new road to create a detour around the culvert that caved in the highway. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was closed to people--but not birds, of course. 

I passed waterfalls at Moloaa and Anahola that I only see every three or four years—and only when the clouds part long enough for a view. I heard snow was falling on Big Island’s Mauna Kea. I saw Facebook photos of hail that fell on parts of Oahu.

And that evening, to top off a few surreal days, a Laysan albatross landed in my front yard. Soon after, the sun set, and an almost full moon rose in a sky as clear and sharp as Mariah Carey singing Emotions.

I tried to leave the house today to write at my local coffee shop. Well, that’s not entirely true. More than write, I really wanted to capture more stories. Right now, the stories about the rain are raging as much as the streams and rivers and roads-turned-into-rivers. Just about everyone I run into has a story--has a detail to add to the greater tale that is the 2012 Winter Storm. But traffic from Kapaa was backed up clear to Anahola. That’s a good eight miles. Maybe 10. Maybe more.

The Hanalei and Kalihiwai Bridges opened late yesterday afternoon. Truly, the floodgates released, and a flow of trapped traffic like I’ve never seen is trying to make its way through the island’s bottleneck at Kapaa. It certainly doesn’t help that the Kapaa bypass is still closed. 

And, so, I am home-office-bound again. But I am in Hawaii. There are worse things. Far worse. Lucky I live Hawaii. Stay dry.


How about it? Do you have your own Hawaii weather story? If so, please share.




Responses:

Susan | Mar 08, 2012 05:51 AM

Wowee, pretty amazing. In a sick kind of way I'm sorry to have missed all the excitement... which just proves that you, my friend, can write about anything and make it sound exciting. Of course the renters in our cottages may not think it so fascinating but I will email them a link to your blog so they might see it all from your perspective. Loved the photos, too... is that Lulu (or Nickle?) with their head out the window... and a raincoat on?? I wonder if that was Sean on his paddleboard at Coconut Marketplace... I'll send him a link, too. His property, being just upstream from Opaekaa Falls, was completely flooded! We offered him a loan of a kayak.

Mary | Mar 08, 2012 09:12 AM

We didn't get a Disaster Preparedness Guide. Guess they figure Soggy South Side will be Sunny again, Soon.

ROSALIE LENORE DEMARTINO | Mar 23, 2012 09:31 AM

3/23/2012: Enjoyed the story of March weather.Only been there once at that time of year, and it did rain a lot. Hope for gorgeous weather in May for my birthday, and 50th anniversary party for inlaws. Thanks for the update. Rosalie

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