Waimea Valley reopens after cleanup from flood damage

Visitors returned to Waimea Valley on the North Shore after flood waters shutdown the park for four days. Tuesday’s rain storm caused major damage but the popular attraction reopened Sunday before the weekend was over.

Executive director Richard Pezzulo says he was amazed his staff and volunteers were able to clean up the park within four days, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

A few days ago, there was debris and mud everywhere as flood waters rushed down North Valley Road and destroyed what was in its path.

Josie Hoh, botanical group manager, says “it was such a rushing gush of water that it jumped over the berm and went through the North Valley Road and down into our working area.”

“It went from normal and it just jumped up to 12 feet,” said cultural programs manager Ah Lan Diamond.

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Aside from structural damage, equipment was also lost. “We lost a tractor,” Pezzulo said. “It got swept down stream a couple hundred yards and that’s totally damaged.”>

The estimated cost in property damage is anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 and that doesn’t include the damage made on North Valley Road which is an access point for officials to get to their conservation work behind the waterfall.

Waimea Valley also lost money when it closed for clean-up efforts. “We usually get about 800 to a thousand visitors every day and that could be anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 a day,” Pezzulo said.

He said they have flood insurance to cover some of the damage.

We wanted to know what changes will be made when another major flood hits. Pezzulo says “we will probably take a look at the burms that we have developed there, and maybe some the walls and concrete barriers that may help, but again, it’s Mother Nature and it’s not easy to fight her.”

He tells us this isn’t the first time they’ve seen a disastrous flood like the one last week. Back in the 1980s, there was a more severe flood that closed the attraction for six months.

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