After 'Biblical' Rains, Hawaii Breathes a Sigh of Relief

Hurricane Lane dumped almost 4 feet of rain on some parts of the islands, but moves off
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 26, 2018 1:03 AM CDT
After 'Biblical' Rains, Hawaii Breathes a Sigh of Relief
James Fujita, left, and Reid Fujita take down plywood along Waikiki Beach, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Honolulu. Federal officials said Saturday that torrential rains are now the biggest threat to Hawaii after the once-powerful hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.   (AP Photo/John Locher)

A once-powerful hurricane twisted and drifted away from Hawaii, leaving behind heavily saturated ground on the Big Island and many residents on other islands relieved it didn't wreak more havoc. Firefighters on the Big Island rescued 39 people from floodwaters through early Saturday as the island grappled with the nearly 4 feet of rain from Tropical Storm Lane dumped on the eastern part of the island over the course of three days. In Honolulu, where the storm deposited only a few inches of rain, shopkeepers removed plywood from their windows and reopened for business. The National Weather Service canceled all storm warnings, reports the AP, but said preliminary figures show that Lane dropped the fourth-highest amount of rain for a hurricane to hit the United States since 1950. Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas a year ago, topped the list.

The storm's outer bands dumped as much as 45 inches on the mostly rural Big Island. The main town of Hilo, population 43,000, was flooded Friday with waist-high water. "It was almost biblical proportions," said Kai Kahele, a state senator who represents Hilo. But Hilo is accustomed to rain, he noted. And the Wailuku River, which raged with runoff, has a name that means "destructive water" in Hawaiian. Big Island Book Buyers in Hilo opened as normal Saturday after owner Mary Bicknell saw a bit of sunshine. "Everybody is in pretty good spirits. It's kind of nice," she said of her customers. One of the island's volcanoes is erupting, and the rain could still cause whiteout conditions on some active lava fields when it hits the molten rock and boils off as steam. The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with only about four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. "It's great that it didn't get us," says Nick Palumbo II, who owns a surf shop on the island of Lanai, but "we're going to get nailed one time, and people are going to not listen, exactly like 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf.'"

(More Hurricane Lane stories.)

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