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Oahu sees flooding, heavy rain

A thin rain continued to fall on Oahu Friday as islanders woke up to closed schools, flooded homes and roads.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A thin rain continued to fall on Oahu Friday as islanders woke up to closed schools, flooded homes and roads.

A major freeway connecting downtown Honolulu to Kailua was closed completely after commuters began driving the wrong way using the only open route. Pali Highway was partially blocked by a waterfall and debris.

Other roads on the windward side of the island were flooded by the heaviest rain Thursday. Elsewhere, motorists drove cautiously during the downpours.

Flash flood warnings were in effect for Waimanalo, Kaneohe, Kailua and Punaluu communities on Oahu. Rain was also falling on Maui and Kauai islands.

Over a 48-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Thursday, Punaluu recorded more than a foot and a half of rain, said National Weather Service forecaster Robert Ballard.

Despite the mud, muck and landslides, no serious injuries or severe damage were immediately reported.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed an emergency proclamation Thursday night to help residents and businesses affected by floods. It authorizes the use of the National Guard for disaster relief, public safety and debris removal, according to a statement by state Civil Defense.

It also activates loan programs and the state Major Disaster Fund.

"This is probably the largest flooding event we've had since the 1996 flood in the Makaha area," said John Cummings, plans and operations officer for Oahu Civil Defense.

Greg Knudsen, Department of Education spokesman, said Haaula Elementary School, Laie Elementary, and Kaaawa Elementary and Kahuku Intermediate and High schools would be closed Friday.

People were being urged to seek higher ground and to stay away from streams and low-lying areas.

The National Weather Service said the rains, which started Wednesday, were associated with a low-pressure trough several hundred miles off Oahu coupled with southeasterly winds. Tradewinds were expected to return Friday, likely bringing lighter showers and overcast skies for much of Oahu.