USA – Evacuations After Dam Breach in Maui, Hawaii

Update 10 March 2021:

The Governor in Hawaii declared a state of emergency on 08 March 2021,after heavy rains and flooding had caused extensive damage to public and private property, impacting the counties of Hawai‘i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua‘i, and the City and County of Honolulu. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. However media reported 1 person missing after being swept away by flood waters in Pearl City.

The National Weather Service Honolulu reported 19.21 inches / 487.93mm of rain fell in 48 hours to 09 March in West Wailuaiki, Maui.

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Original report, 09 March 2021:

Heavy rainfall in Hawaii has caused a dam to overtop on the island of Maui.

The County of Maui said a breach of the Kaupakalua Dam near Haiku was reported during the afternoon of 08 March 2021.

“Emergency evacuations were ordered for everyone downstream of the reservoir dam in the Haiku area makai of Kaupakalua Road. People near heavily flowing streams were advised to evacuate or seek higher ground immediately.” Evacuation centres have been opened in local public buildings.

The Maui Fire Department said it received more than a dozen calls for help from residents who were trapped in their homes because of rising flood waters.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino surveyed the flooding in Haiku and reported that Kaupakalua Road was impassable in some areas and approximately a half dozen homes were heavily damaged or destroyed. There is also evidence of landslides. He urged residents to remain vigilant.

“For the safety of evacuees and emergency personnel, I urge everyone to stay away from the Haiku area,” said Mayor Michael Victorino. “MPD and Maui Fire and Rescue personnel are assisting those needing help. Please stay home, off the road, and away from streams, rivers, culverts and drainage ditches even if they are currently dry. Visitors and residents should understand this is life-threatening flooding.”

All Maui County parks on the island of Maui are closed due to heavy rain and flooding and will remained closed until further notice.

National Weather Service (NWS) Honolulu said “radar indicated locally heavy rain over East Maui, from Haiku to Hana to Kaupo, which includes the area upslope of the Kaupakalua Dam. Rain was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour and area streams are on the rise.” Heavy rainfall has affected other areas of the state and NWS has issued flash-flood warnings.

In a statement, Hawaii Governor David Ige said, “the state is assisting Maui County as residents and visitors downstream of the Kaupakalua Dam evacuate at this hour. The health and safety of our residents and visitors in Haiku and surrounding areas remain our top priority as heavy rain is posing a potential threat to the dam. The state and county are closely monitoring the situation. Please stay out of the area until the danger has passed and continue to monitor local media for updates.”

The Kaupakalua Dam is an earthen dam constructed in 1885 and one of the oldest agricultural dams on Maui. It has a maximum storage capacity 68-million gallons of water and is 57-feet high and 400-feet long.

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