Hawaii Declares State Of Emergency And Evacuations Due To Flooding That Has Destroyed Homes, Bridges


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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Hawaii’s governor declared a state of emergency following catastrophic flooding and landslides which have destroyed homes and bridges, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, numerous sources reported Wednesday.

Democratic Gov. David Ige authorized the proclamation allowing the state to free up funds to address emergency needs, he announced on Twitter. At least half of a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed on the island of Maui, and two bridges in Oahu crumbled as floodwaters almost reached the bridges, Hawaii News Now reported, according to CNN.

“This has been unprecedented flooding, and we will be making damage assessments today,” Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said Tuesday, according to CNN. Victorino said some residents told him the flooding was the worst they had seen in a quarter century. (RELATED: Study: Flooding Could Cost $14.2 Trillion In Asset Loss By 2100)

The emergency proclamation covers Hawaii, Maui, Kalawao, O’ahu and Kaua’i counties, according to the governor’s statement. The statement said the heavy rains and flooding are expected to continue through Friday, March 12.

A dam also overflowed in Maui, forcing residents to evacuate until officials determined it would be safe to return. The Maui Fire Department reportedly responded to more than a dozen emergency calls from people trapped by the flooding, according to a statement by the county.

More than 1,300 people lost their power at one point during the flooding, and heavy rains rendered roads in Maui impassable. Ige said in the proclamation that the heavy rains and flooding washed out a bridge and displaced another in the county.

“A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions are favorable for flash flooding. Flash Flooding is LIFE-THREATENING. Do not cross fast-flowing water in your vehicle or on foot,” an emergency notification from the county said. The flash flood warning for all islands is in place until 6 p.m local time Wednesday. 

The Honolulu County government ordered residents via an emergency notice sent Tuesday to evacuate immediately, CNN reported. Residents impacted by the flooding were directed to seek short-term shelter at evacuation sites.

“Catastrophic flooding from Opaeula Stream. Evacuate now from Haleiwa town. You are in danger. Leave now.”

Two people in Honolulu were swept away in the waters. The fire department saved a 27-year-old man who was swept away in his truck, according to Hawaii News Now. The man stood on the top of his truck while waiting for rescue crews 100 yards from where he was swept away. 

“My caution to anyone watching is please heed that warning and evacuate. We don’t do those kind of orders capriciously, we do those with purpose, they are most serious,” Rick Blangiardi, mayor of Honolulu, said in a video address, according to CNN.