Rainwater rushing down Haleakala turned into a monstrous flash flood on Sunday evening, washing out parts of the roadway and trapping several vehicles that were traveling on the back road to Hana.
Kaupo resident Le’anani Domen said she came across a raging river flowing across Piilani Highway at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
“The water from up on the mountain was raging through Nuu bridge, and I was stuck with 10 other cars on the Kaupo side,” she said.
Authorities closed a one-mile stretch of Piilani Highway between Nuu and Pahihi. About two dozen people, including Joe Imhoff and his 4-year-old son, were stuck between two raging rivers.
The Makawao resident said a wall of water came rushing down a ridge along Haleakala.
“It took out a barbed wire fence. There was big logs and boulders rolling down across the road and big chunks of trees, tons of mud,” said Imhoff.
The flash flooding caught many by surprise, especially since it wasn’t raining heavily along the highway.
“There would be light drizzles, but only in the mountain was it pouring rain and there was rumbling thunder,” said Domen.
After a couple of hours, the water level subsided below the Nuu bridge, leaving behind about two feet of mud on the road.
“The rental cars definitely did not have a chance of crossing over the mud,” said Imhoff. “A couple of locals with big jacked up trucks went barreling through it, and then people were trying to shovel the mud off the road using boogie boards and stuff like that.”
On the Pahihi side, crews carefully moved boulders and debris off to the side so that vehicles could pass through, leaving drivers relieved — and with some incredible images.
“It has been awhile since we’ve had [major flooding], but it’s nice to really capture it and show people cause they don’t believe. They go, ‘Oh yeah, road washout,’ so they think it’s a little pond in the road, but they don’t know we have raging floods,” said Kaupo resident Alohalani Smith.
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