Evacuations ordered after heavy rains breach dam on Maui

AUDREY McAVOY and MARK THIESSEN,

AP

March 8, 2021

HONOLULU (AP) — Heavy rains have breached a dam on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and nearby residents in the community of Haiku are being evacuated, county officials said Monday.

The National Weather Service reported 13.2 inches (33.5 centimeters) of rain fell in the Haiku area of Maui’s North Coast between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“Resources are being pushed into this area right now,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said during a live address on Facebook.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a real flooding situation we have not seen in a long time. In fact, some of the residents have told me that this is the worst they’ve seen in over 25 years,” he said.

He urged anyone who needed to shelter to go to evacuation centers that were set up at Hana High School and the Paia Community Center.

Chris Sanita, the principal at Hana High School, said he didn’t know how many people might be headed to the shelter but they were making preparations.

“We’re ready, our gym is big, we got a lot of resources,” he told The Associated Press.

“If you have family and friends and you can get out of the area, that is probably preferable. But be careful if you see high water, turn around and go back,” Victorino said. “Do not try to cross it at this time.”

He also urged tourists to stay in their hotel rooms or other lodging and not go out Monday evening.

County spokesman Brian Perry said he didn’t know how many people were downstream of Kaupakalua Dam, which is in the town of Haiku.

A state website says the earthen dam was built in 1885 and is 57 feet (17.4 meters) in height and 400 feet (122 meters) in length. It belongs to the East Maui Irrigation Company, which was created to divert water from streams to feed sugar plantation lands.

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Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska.

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