Flossie: Mixed Impacts
While many considered Flossie a flop, the storm’s landfall last Monday still left its mark on Maui County.
The storm caught the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s attention on July 27, with varying near-hurricane wind speeds as high as 70 mph. Those conditions dwindled to a tropical depression before it hit Hawaii, Monday, July 29. However, its rain, lightning and average wind speed of 33 mph still caused damage and inconveniences on Molokai.
East Molokai residents reported impassable flooding on Kamehameha V Highway near Kamalo for a short period Monday night. After lightning struck near the Paalau Power Plant’s generators, an island-wide power outage occurred for about an hour, according to Maui Electric spokeswoman Kau`i Awai-Dickson.
“The control room lost power momentarily and the circuit that provides power to Molokai’s East end tripped offline causing a sudden drop in frequency,” Awai-Dickson said via email. “Protective measures on the generating units automatically shut the engines down resulting in the island-wide power outage.”
All power was restored by 8:25 p.m. on Molokai, though power outages on Maui lingered in some areas until the following day.
Maui County officials asked residents to limit water use as water tanks could not be filled until power was restored. However overall, Molokai residents experienced only minor disturbances.
“It wasn’t that bad,” said Molokai resident Patrick “Bulla” Wainui. “The bad thing was that the power went out. But you know, whatever comes, comes.”
Kawela resident Frances Feeter, who lives near Kawela Stream, has experienced frequent flooding on her property in the past from heavy rains overflowing the stream bed and bridge. She said while water did overflow the culver of the Kawela Bridge currently under construction, it did not appear to cause any damage this time.
“We stayed out late that night to monitor the bridge,” said Goodfellows Brothers project manager Todd Svetin. “It [the storm] put us back a little bit because we have to pick up debris and restore the bridge back to its original condition but we’ll start construction again [this week].”
Bridge construction had been on hold since March due to state permitting delays and was scheduled to resume last Monday but that date was again pushed back after the storm.
According to the Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone, Maui received the bulk of Flossie’s heat.
Antone received reports of fallen trees, boulders, telephone poles and closures of Hana and Piilani highways as well as Haleakala National Park. Also, lightning left 10,000 residents without power, striking homes, and in one report, even a person inside. The Haiku resident had been washing dishes when he was struck but did not sustain major injury.
No reports have been received from Lanai, Antone said. However, the county is still collecting data and storm-related damage reports.
The National Hurricane Center website lists methods to better prepare for extreme weather conditions at home and in the community:
• Find if you live in an evacuation area and assess what risks and vulnerabilities your home has in case of high winds and flooding. You can find if your home is at risk by visiting floodsmart.gov.
• Keep an updated contact list of county public safety officials, local hospitals, property insurance agents, local media stations, and the American Red Cross.
• Plan to have a set meeting place for friends and family members if unexpected weather strikes should you be advised to stay indoors or evacuated.
• Compile a disaster supply kit consisting of a minimum of a gallon of water for each person for up to three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flashlight, etc. For more suggested items, visit ready.gov.
• Review your FEMA evacuation guidelines at ready.gov and leave immediately if ordered or consider available protection options if given the choice of staying at your home or evacuation.