Flooding creates a ‘wild’ scene at Ginger Falls B&B

MAKAWAO – Sunny Jordan and her husband were “so scared” as rainwater from nearby Maliko Gulch overwhelmed their property and lifted their rental cottage off its foundation during heavy rains Thursday afternoon.

“We were so scared. It came so fast,” Jordan said of the floodwaters as rain continued to fall Friday on the lush property along Kaluanui Road. “We never had that do that before.”

The 13-year-old cottage that washed down the gulch – and was nowhere to be seen – was about 4 feet high off the ground and was being rented to visitors from St. Louis. They were not in the cottage at the time of the flash flood but lost everything, including their suitcases and plane tickets, Jordan said.

If the two visitors had been in the cottage, they would not have survived, Jordan said.

On Friday morning, mud, debris, pipes and wires were all that were left of the cottage that was part of the Jordans’ bed-and-breakfast business. A sign described the area and the rental as “Wild Ginger Falls,” referring to a waterfall near the property. There used to be wild ginger near the stream until the flash flood washed it away. Large boulders replaced the ginger, washed onto the property by the flood.

Maui County Civil Defense Emergency Management Officer Anna Foust said Friday afternoon that the damage to the cottage was the worst incident reported from Thursday’s floods.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” she cautioned.

There was a flash-flood warning posted for Maui for most of Friday but it was taken down in the afternoon. A flash-flood watch remains in effect until at least this afternoon.

Foust reminded residents to stay away from rising water and to clean out any culverts or drains on their property that could cause a clog and flooding. While it may not be raining in one area, she said a flash flood could occur elsewhere with water flowing into the dry areas.

For most of the day, residents in parts of Haiku and Makawao were either without water or with low water pressure because the rain washed out a 12-inch waterline Thursday. A tanker with potable water had been stationed on Kokomo Road at a vacant lot between Hoolea Place and Puuomalei Road.

Around 6 p.m. Friday, the county Department of Water Supply reported water service had been restored in those areas after crews created a temporary bypass until the damaged 12-inch waterline can be replaced next week.

Water department crews put in a 2-inch bypass line Friday.

“Flow is limited, and pressure will fluctuate (from very high to very low). But everyone should have water,” said water department spokeswoman Jacky Takakura in an email Friday evening.

The areas affected included the upper section of Kokomo Road, Hoolea Place, Puuomalei Road, the upper section of Kaupakalua Road and Piiholo Road.

Also on Friday, Baldwin Park in Paia was closed because of flooding. No other information was immediately available from the county about damage or prospects of reopening the park.

The Kapalua Arboretum trail in West Maui will be closed until at least Monday morning because of the heavy rains, Kapalua officials said. The Kapalua Shuttle will not be conducting transfers to or pickups from the arboretum.

The Mahana Ridge Trail continues to be closed because of construction activity around Mahana Estates.

Upcountry roads that were closed Thursday all were re-opened by Friday, according to a county announcement.

The Red Cross shelter at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani that was opened on Thursday evening for those displaced by flooding or unable to return to their homes was closed at 7:30 a.m. Friday. Two residents who were unable to return to their home spent part of the night at the shelter, the Red Cross said.

According to the National Weather Service, the most rainfall on Maui in the 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. Friday fell at Puu Kukui in the West Maui Mountains with a gauge showing 8.96 inches. In the same time period, 4.43 inches fell in Pukalani and 2.13 inches fell in Kaupo Gap.

Foust said she did not have an estimate of damage caused by the heavy rain Thursday. Those who may have incurred damage from the storm are urged to fill out a preliminary damage assessment report for the county. The report could be used to seek assistance from state and federal agencies, she said.

The form may be found online at www.mauicounty.gov/floodsurvey. Those seeking information may call Maui Civil Defense at 270-7285.

The deadline to submit the damage assessment report online is Thursday.

Although Foust said she didn’t think the damage Thursday would breach a threshold to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, the county still would like to get a total assessment of the damage.

Jordan hoped that there could be some kind of government assistance for them.

“The bad thing is we don’t have flood insurance,” Jordan said. “It’s like kicking us when we are down.”

Jordan and her husband, Bob Flint, had thought flood coverage was included in their overall insurance policy. Estimated damage for at least the cottage was around $200,000, Jordan said.

The floodwaters mostly spared the main home structurally on the 2.25-acre property filled with bamboo trees and ginger, which is accessible via a short descending private road off Kaluanui Road. However, a screened-in and covered patio attached to the garage was filled with mud, and Flint’s ceramics studio, which is a separate structure from the house, got flooded with water.

Floodwaters also got under the asphalt driveway leading to the cottage that was swept away. It was cracked and warped.

Jordan said that at one point Thursday, she and Flint were trapped in their home as floodwaters surrounded their main house. After the rain and water subsided for a while Thursday, the couple left the property as advised by fire crews and spent the night elsewhere.

Jordan said the visitors who were renting the cottage stayed at a hotel Thursday night and on Friday had gone to Ross Dress for Less to buy clothes. They planned to leave the island later in the day, she said.

Jordan, who has lived on the property since 1997, couldn’t believe how high the water rose Thursday.

“This is a wild one,” she said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.