Heavy rains caused a major landslide on the Kuhio Highway in Kauai, Hawaii, on Thursday, March 11, 2021. The severe weather also led to flooding that prompted the closure of three state parks, along the said highway.
A huge landslide occurred at the Kuhio Highway following a night of heavy rains.
According to Ed Sniffen with the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), there is up to 1.5 m (5 feet) of surface material that slid down. "It also started buckling the road before it slid."
HDOT added that if the weather permits, crews will begin clearing operations to remove debris.
"Once we start looking at the roadway and the slope itself, we can start seeing what kind of timeframe we would have to reopen again," said Sniffen.
"Best case scenario, the roadway is in great condition, slopes are stable, we just need to move debris, then we could potentially open everything up by Tuesday of next week."
Crews are being assembled to help residents in need of assistance, said Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami. "This is an all-hands-on-deck operation and we’ve been through this situation before in 2018."
"We do have resources and community partners out there that have been deployed that are set up for food pantries."
Kauai #hiwx #hitraffic pictures from the landslide/rockfall at Kuhio Highway (Rte 560) mile marker 1 heading to Hanalei Hill. Our rockfall fence caught a lot of the material. pic.twitter.com/x2ftqprXpg— Hawaii DOT (@DOTHawaii) March 10, 2021
Kauai #hiwx #hitraffic 8:28AM, 3/11 update on Kuhio Hwy at Hanalei Hill (MM 1). New slide has completely blocked the road and pavement is affected. Crews continue to monitor and will address and assess when it is safe. We will provide time frames following the assessment. pic.twitter.com/4cp3KF04Ht— Hawaii DOT (@DOTHawaii) March 11, 2021
According to local media, the landslide startled residents and left many business owners disheartened.
"People were excited to try to get back to something of normal and having this happen this morning was devastating," said Liz Doyle, owner of the Hanalei Center.
After the landslide cut off access to the county's north shore, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative advised Hanalei residents to prepare for extended power outages.
First responders were able to access the north shore by boat and air and have been mobilized for emergencies.
Flooding also lashed the county, resulting in the closure of three state parks namely Polihale State Park, Hāʻena State Park, and the Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.
The road was a river of mud at one point, according to officials. Access to Polihale will be restored after post-storm maintenance and once repairs are done.
The flooding and landslides in Kauai came after emergency evacuations were ordered for Haiku residents in Maui after heavy rainfall caused flooding and a dam breach on the Kaupakalua on Monday, March 8.
Featured image credit: HDOT