Rescue follows flash flood

IAO VALLEY – Firefighters rescued a Wailuku man and his two daughters after they became stranded by rising floodwaters Saturday afternoon at Iao Valley State Park.

“I knew better,” the man said after firefighters brought him and the two girls, one by one, across a fast-moving Iao Stream. “I didn’t think it would be that quick.”

The stream had been calmer when the three crossed it. But rain in Waikapu at about 1 p.m. caused a surge, leaving the three stranded along rocks across from the trail.

“It was like a minute,” said the man, who didn’t want to give his name. “I said, ‘I think we should go.’ It was too late.”

A sign posted along the trail warned of the possibility of flash flooding and water rising without warning.

Wailuku firefighters and Kahului rescue and hazmat crews responded to the rescue call at 1:55 p.m., along with state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers.

The stream had subsided slightly but was still moving quickly when a group of three firefighters, wearing helmets and life vests, made their way across to reach the man and girls, ages 8 and 9. Firefighters used a rope to carry helmets and life vests for the three across the stream.

Positioned in the middle of a line of four firefighters, the three were brought across the stream one by one, beginning with the smallest girl.

More than a dozen people who had gathered to watch the rescue effort shouted and applauded when the man was brought to safety to complete the rescue at about 3:20 p.m.

Rain began falling shortly afterward.

Firefighters decided to act when radar showed more heavy rain on the way.

The three were uninjured.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for all of Maui County through 6 a.m. today. “Flash flooding is very dangerous,” according to the weather service. “Remember that it does not have to be raining heavily where you are for flash flooding to occur.”