7 rescued from submerged cars in Maui flood; state under Flash Flood Watch

Portions of Kihei Road were reportedly washed away in a flash flood on Tuesday afternoon as heavy rains swamped parts of Maui.
KIHEI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) –

Torrential rains on Maui spurred flash floods Tuesday that washed over roads and submerged vehicles.

Seven people were rescued after floods stranded motorists and pedestrians on South Kihei Road, according to fire officials.

Some motorists were trapped in their vehicles and swept down the road in gushing water. Two pedestrians also attempted to cross a bridge but were unable to pass and decided to wait for waters to recede.

Maui’s Flash Flood Warning expired at 7:30 p.m. as heavy rains moved over leeward Haleakala slopes, and eventually cleared the island.

The state remains under a Flash Flood Watch through late Wednesday, however.

In Kihei, flooding temporarily closed a portion of South Kihei Road between Kulanoi Hakoi Street and Kaonoulu Road. The roads have since been reopened.

Photos taken at one Kihei apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon showed nearly a dozen vehicles that were partially submerged. Witnesses say several homes had to be evacuated because of the water.

“I turned around and all of a sudden it was this huge wall of water came down next to this complex where I live,” said Kevin Olson, a Kihei resident. “I barely got through it, and the other side of my property, there’s a wall of water coming down that parking lot in that condominium complex, too.”

Longtime Kihei resident Vernon Kalanikau said he first noticed the dark clouds upcountry around 3:30 p.m and knew it was only a matter of time until the water came rushing down.

He and and his wife drove to Kulanihakoi Bridge and witnessed a small trickle quickly transform into a raging river within five minutes, carrying barrels and debris down into the ocean.

Kalanikau said they made it out safely before they could be trapped on the bridge.

“The water was going around the temporary bridge and it’s causing a lot of flooding towards the condos and homes down the road so it’s all backed up and trying to get the ocean,” he said.

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