Residents, businesses clean up aftermath of Tropical Storm Darby

Umi Street, Kalihi

State and county crews weren’t the only ones cleaning up messes left behind by Tropical Storm Darby.

Residents and businesses were busy with major flooding and damage as well.

One of the hardest hit areas Sunday night was on Umi Street in Kalihi.

Several residents there were forced to evacuate their homes and lost nearly everything when a nearby stream into a raging river.

Dawn Sato suspected something was wrong when she noticed water flowing in under her backdoor.

“I guess the river overflowed and at first, the water was coming in with the sliding door closed. It was coming in in gushes, and so I tried to come back out and go to the front door to try and open it, but by the time I did that, the glass broke and all the water came gushing in and I couldn’t move,” Sato said. “Everything was all pushed this way, the refrigerator was sideways, and yeah. I just was stuck.”

Mud covered the floor of her apartment and smears of dirt indicated just how high the water got.

Still, Sato is handling the aftermath with a smile.

“Gotta just clean up and rebuild, I guess. You do everything and everything is all sludged and nothing can be saved I think. Only whatever is on the top, like in the cabinets,” she said. “I hope this never happens to anybody else, and I hope it doesn’t happen anytime in my lifetime again!”

Aaron Meyer had to think fast in order to escape. “We couldn’t get the door open so we broke it to get out,” he said. “By the time I came out, the water was waist-deep.”

Neighbors Joe and Faith Aiello also left their apartment.

“It was just rising and rising and then we got so scared, we evacuated. I took (Faith) to Waikele side and came back and my house was flooded,” said Joe Aiello. “We’ve been here five years and (the stream) does get up high, but it never got that high where it overflowed, and this, I think this is the worst. I think it’s a combination, because we saw a lot of big logs coming down, like somebody cut trees or something. It’s really scary.”

Monday morning shed light on the damage. Bath tubs were filled with muddy water and couches and mattresses were left destroyed.

Residents tried to salvage whatever they could like soiled clothes and photos on the wall.

The Aiellos are now looking for another place to stay as they clean everything up.

Emotions are still running high after a terrifying experience.

“I thought I knew what to do, but I guess when you get other people involved, it’s a different story,” said Meyer, talking about his son. “It’s not just grab your stuff. You’ve got to worry about other kids, other people. We always can rebuild, that’s the main thing.”

Residents said they plan on getting in touch with their insurance companies to see if any of their losses can be covered.

Umi Street, Kalihi
Umi Street, Kalihi
Klebahn Place
Klebahn Place

Jill Allen lives on Klebahn Place in Nuuanu. She came home Sunday night and discovered water flooded her entire property, turning her backyard into a swimming pool.

“There was so much high level of water in there. It wasn’t just in one area, it was throughout the entire house. Once the water came around, it went all the way back there, where you can see a lot of the foliage. All the chairs and lawn furniture was all stuck over there, but (the water) looped around to the back side of the house so it was coming through every single wall you could imagine,” she said.

Allen says it will likely take her several weeks, and possibly months, to clean out her home.

Over in Iwilei, businesses at the Shops at Dole Cannery spent the day clearing out water and assessing inventory.

The complex is prone to flooding. Businesses dealt with a similar mess during a period of heavy rain last September.

The American Red Cross says anyone who would like to report residential damage caused by Tropical Storm Darby can contact the statewide phone number below during the following hours. Please leave a message if calling after-hours and your call will be returned. If you have an emergency related incident to report, please call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance.

Hawaii Red Cross Statewide Darby Damage Reporting: (808) 739-8115
Monday, July 25: 3-6 p.m.; Tuesday, July 26 until further notice: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Red Cross advises that people should return home only when officials say it is safe. Follow these tips when returning home, especially if you experienced flooding:

  • Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • If possible, leave children and pets with a relative or friend. If not, keep them away from hazards and floodwater.
  • Beware of rodents, insects, and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury
  • Smell for gas. If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
  • If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  • Open doors and windows. Let the house air out before staying inside for any length of time if the house was closed for more than 48 hours.
  • Turn the main electrical power and water systems off until you or a professional can ensure that they are safe. NEVER turn the power on or off, or use and electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Check the ceiling and floor for signs of sagging. Water may be trapped in the ceiling or floors may be unsafe to walk on.
The Shops at Dole Cannery
The Shops at Dole Cannery

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