Iao Valley suffers major damage from storm, flooding homes

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Iao Valley on Maui was hit with some of the worst damage from the storm Tuesday. Overflow from the Wailuku river flooded homes and severely damaged the popular Kepaniwai Park.

The road to the valley was closed most of the day as crews have been cleaning up and assessing the damage.

Flood victims are devastated some of them had to be rescued. One family in particular had to climb onto the roof of their house and wait until they were rescued.

Firefighters and police officers pitched in to help get flood water and debris from out of the Higa residence. Everything inside the newly renovated home was destroyed.

But Lisa Higa realizes it could have been much worse. She was on her way home last night when she got a call from her two children that water from the river was coming into the house fast.

“They were frantic and they were going crazy ’cause the water kept rising and rising and rising, and I told them you gotta get to the roof, go to the roof, go to the roof!”

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As she rushed home, the 10- and 11-year-old children, who were with their grandmother, started to prepare to escape to the top of their home. “Lucky enough, they had enough common sense. They got all their life jackets. My son put one life jacket on my daughter, put a life jacket on himself, and he put one on my 74-year-old mother.”

It just so happened Maui Fire department fire chief Allen was nearby, realized what was happening, and called battalion chief Allen Duarte to come help.

“When I made my way down the road, and I got out of my truck, the water on the road was about knee high, and I jumped the fence trying to access them through the property. When I jumped the fence, I was in this deep water, and it was running hard.”

Everyone made it out safely, including their next door neighbors, who also had to be rescued.

Farther into Iao Valley, more damage from the flooded river was seen — trees and large boulders were knocked down, as well as heavy machinery. A backhoe was no match for the raging waters — it ended up about a quarter mile away.

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At Kepaniwai Park, a protective rock wall was knocked down, so water and debris from the Wailuku river flooded the parking lot.

A man identified as Charlie said “what happened when that water came down last night and hit that corner and jumped over the parking lot, everything just came right on down. And all these asphalt? That’s the road. These rocks were in the river and the trash bin was over there.”

Part of the road leading into the parking lot was washed away, while everywhere else, there was debris, broken pieces of the park.

“These things weigh a ton. I can’t even move it barely and they were tossed around like toothpicks.”

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