Heavy rain flooded a Windward Oahu school and forced students to go home early Friday.
Residents tell us it could have been prevented if a nearby stream had been cleaned out. So who’s responsible and why wasn’t it done?
Students at Hauula Elementary School were told to stay indoors after a stream overflowed onto their campus. School officials tell us that classes were canceled before noon so parents were called to pick up their children.
“The whole outside was flooded, the basketball court and the grass,” said sixth-grader Keanu Wright.
“That’s what they need to work on. That’s the part I am concerned about. They need to work on the river, because there’s been too many times it’s been flooding over here,” said parent Doris Sila.
Residents say flooding happens all too often. The stream is right by the school and the mouth of it gets clogged with sand and debris.
“The water was at least up to the naupaka (plants) by then, so of course it was going to overflow right into the school,” said Ula Halualani-Hee, who lives right by the mouth of the stream. She says most of the time, residents wind up digging up the sand to clear the clog.
Part of the problem, is it the city’s responsibility or the state’s?
“The state says no, that’s the city. This is the state. They go back and forth and, you know what? Let’s go and do it,” she said.
So we checked and learned that it’s actually both. The area under the bridge and highway is state but the mouth of the stream is city. Crews from the city and the state wound up digging the whole area so the water can flow toward the ocean.
Residents are wondering why it wasn’t done before the rains came.
“I would, to be proactive. I wouldn’t wait for something drastic to happen, like lives first of all or homes being damaged,” said Halualani-Hee.
A city spokesman sent a statement saying the last time the city performed an emergency mouth opening was during Tropical Storm Darby on July 24. He adds that sand accumulation changes with surf and currents, so it’s a dynamic situation.
A state Transportation spokesman says the area under the highway was cleaned recently, but is still checking on exactly when.