Across America, floods are the number one natural disaster, resulting in more than $3 billion in insurance claims annually.
Nor is flash flooding uncommon in certain parts of the Hawaiian islands, despite their distant location from the mainland. In 2004, for example, a flash flood in Oahu’s Manoa Valley soaked the ground floor of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hamilton library. The flood also destroyed about 60 homes and resulted in $1 million in total damages.
On Monday, August 24, flash floods returned to Hawaii in the form of Tropical Storm Kilo, which brought heavy rains and thunderstorms to the islands.
While Tropical Storm Kilo wasn’t nearly as devastating as the flood of 2004, it still caused a fair amount of trouble.
The heavy rains caused manhole covers on Honolulu to overflow, spewing 500,000 gallons of wastewater onto the ground near the popular tourist destination of Waikiki beach. The spill forced local officials to close down a four-mile stretch of the beach until Wednesday, when water tests revealed that bacteria levels had subsided. Since Waikiki beach is one of the state’s biggest sources of tourism revenue, the beach’s closing undoubtedly dealt a blow to Hawaii’s economy, said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
“We recognize — both at the state and county level — in terms of our economy there’s nothing more important than Waikiki,” Caldwell said. “We wanted to make sure that this event was over and it’s over in basically two days and a little bit more.”
The Honolulu Zoo also flooded during the storm, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. In Pearl City, the American Red Cross opened a temporary shelter after a 16-resident home flooded, though the shelter soon closed once the residents’ landlord found temporary housing, ABC News reported.
By midweek, Tropical Storm Kilo had moved away from the Hawaiian islands, leaving nothing but rain and humidity in its wake.
“It going to get a little bit better into midweek but it’s still going to be quite hot and humid and the potential for the heavier showers remains pretty much throughout the week,” said meteorologist Ian Morrison.