Gusty winds from Tropical Storm Iselle downed buildings, trees and power lines, blocking roads and cutting off power in areas of Maui County, even as the county avoided a direct hit from the storm, officials said Friday.
With a tropical storm warning canceled Friday afternoon for the county, as well as the Big Island and Oahu, Mayor Alan Arakawa declared an "all clear" as of 3 p.m. Friday.
By Friday afternoon, he said, roads in the county had been reopened except in Ulupalakua, where work was underway to clean up a building that fell down in high winds and to clear debris from the road.
A coconut palm tree snapped by high winds rests against the Wailea Golf Club on Friday morning.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Heavy surf left rocks strewn in the parking lot at Maalaea Harbor on Friday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Kihei’s Ruth Skripac strolls along the calm ocean through a fine, misting rain Friday morning. She said she lives in a flood zone and part of her preparations included putting chairs on top of tables. After living on Maui for two years she said she didn’t know what to expect. “This is my first big storm,” she said. “I was a little freaked out. I hear Hana had road closures, but on this side it’s just another day.”
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Maui County Highways crew member Jared Joaquin sections a fallen kiawe tree blocking a section of Makena Road near the Wailea Emerald Course.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"We still have some potential wind and rain as an aftereffect, but we're pretty much all clear," Arakawa said. "Pretty much all of the roads are open except Ulupalakua."
Maui Bus service resumed at 3 p.m. Friday, with regular commuter service set to resume this morning.
Airlines had resumed flights, after some cancellations and delays Thursday and Friday, Arakawa said. County crews were making checks to see that water and sewer systems were running, and workers were assessing closed park areas and returning portable restrooms that had been removed with the impending storm. There was no immediate word on when county parks would reopen.
The Molokai ferry was scheduled to resume operations Friday afternoon, a company official said. The ferry operations to and from Maui and Molokai were halted from Thursday night through Friday morning.
National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Cantin said that the tropical storm warning for Maui County was dropped Friday afternoon because the tropical storm-force winds associated with Iselle were far enough away.
"We would like to emphasize, though, that there remains the potential for heavy showers and gusty winds through the remainder of the afternoon and evening, mainly for Maui County westward," Cantin said Friday. "These showers could lead to localized flooding and minor wind damage."
A high-surf advisory for east-facing shores of Maui and Molokai remained in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.
Arakawa said that the county Emergency Operations Center would continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Julio, which on Friday was "veering off to the north quite a bit."
"We will, in all probability, get wind and rain coming off Julio just because of it coming close enough," Arakawa said.
Julio was expected to affect Maui County on Sunday night and Monday, he said.
"We might be getting some showers and heavy winds, but it's not going to be hurricane force at this point," he said. "It is possible Julio might change course for some reason or other. We have to be a little bit cautious. We really don't know."
Earlier Friday, Julio was about 750 miles east of the Big Island, a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. National Weather Service forecasters predicted the storm would weaken and stay on a path taking it about 200 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands.
If Julio stays on track, "the impacts to the islands would be minimal," said Weather Service meteorologist Derek Wroe. "We would see some large surf. . . . We could see some heavy showers. That's all assuming the track holds. Otherwise, we could still see some tropical storm conditions."
Maui County crews worked throughout the night Thursday and continued to respond to reports of downed trees and power lines Friday, as the center of Iselle passed closest to Maui at about 8 a.m. Friday.
Significant damage was reported in Ulupalakua, where a warehouse-type building collapsed in high winds and trees felled electrical lines, Arakawa said. During a pre-storm news conference Thursday, Arakawa had cautioned that higher gusts could be expected in areas, including Ulupalakua, that are normally prone to strong winds or downslope acceleration.
With no power and a large tree down on the road before the summit entrance, Haleakala National Park was closed Friday and was to remain closed through sunrise today.
"There is constant rain, wind gusts up to 45 mph and no visibility," park spokeswoman Polly Angelakis said before 8 a.m. Friday.
Park officials will assess conditions today and reopen the park once it is safe to do so, she said.
Some customers in areas including Pukalani and Haiku to Hana were without power for about 4 1/2 hours Friday while Maui Electric Co. crews repaired a transmission line. By 1:30 p.m. Friday, power had been restored to about 7,750 customers who lost service around 9 a.m. because of high winds and heavy rains. About 250 customers remained without power in pockets of Olinda, Pukalani, Haiku and Makena while crews worked to repair and replace damaged electrical equipment Friday afternoon, according to MECO.
Shortly after midnight Thursday, approximately 480 customers in Kamalo on Molokai lost power when trees came down on power lines along Kamehameha V Highway. Power was restored to all affected Molokai customers at 3:15 a.m., according to MECO.
In Makena and Wailea, winds downed about 15 trees, as forecasts Friday morning called for winds of 35 to 45 mph, down from the 45 to 50 mph predicted earlier. Three trees blocked the road near the Wailea Gold Course, which was closed. A palm tree that snapped crashed into the porte cochere entry to the golf course.
In the 24 hours ending at 11 a.m. Friday, the highest rainfall totals in Maui County were recorded at Kaupo Gap with 3.54 inches, Punaluu Stream on Molokai with 2.26 inches and Pukalani with 2.02 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Hana Airport had 1.29 inches of rain and Kula had 1.24 inches of rain during the same period.
Kihei recorded 0.22 inches of rain, all of it falling Friday morning.
Ruth Skripac, who lives in a flood zone in Kihei, said she had moved her chairs up on tables in anticipation of the storm.
"I'm relieved," she said Friday morning while walking on the beach, where the ocean was calm.
"This is my first big storm," said Skripac, who has lived on Maui for two years. "I was a little freaked out. I hear Hana had road closures, but on this side it's just another day."
Makawao was relatively unscathed aside from a couple of fallen trees on power lines that caused prolonged road closures on Piiholo and Olinda roads. By Friday morning, Rodeo General Store and Komoda Store and Bakery were both open during their regular business hours with residents buying breakfast and other goods.
"I wasn't disappointed, but I had prepared and prepared," Diane Shuey of Piiholo said, standing outside of the general store. "I was waiting and waiting. But you know what if this hadn't been prepared for and something horrible happened? It's what you have to do when something's coming, and then we'll be back at the beach and everything will be fine."
Residents on Lanai said Friday morning that they saw few impacts from Iselle either overnight or during the day.
"It's windy out here . . . there was almost no rain at all overnight," Alberta deJetley, who had planned to weather the storm at her farm next to Lanai Airport, said Friday by phone. She said some branches had been blown from trees and littered the streets, "but nothing too bad." DeJetley, who publishes Lanai's monthly newspaper, said she had not heard of any reports of power outages or flooding problems as of Friday around noon.
At Kalaupapa National Park on the north shore of Molokai, residents reported strong winds around 4:30 a.m. State Department of Health employee Tylor Puaoi said that a coconut tree had snapped and fallen on power lines overnight, cutting out power to a number of residents at the settlement. By 11 a.m. Friday, electric service had been restored to all homes, and the weather had calmed with no rain and no wind.
Weather on topside Molokai was overcast Friday, but residents reported very little rain and only light winds. A few stores in Kaunakakai opened for business Friday, including Rawlins Chevron, Misaki's Grocery and Take's Variety Store.
A brown water advisory was issued for the state due to the storm. Although the flood and storm water runoff may not be brown, the public is advised to stay out of floodwaters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals and associated flood debris, according to the state Department of Health.
"Turbid water runoff has been known to attract sharks due to possible dead animals being washed into the ocean," said Watson Okubo, monitoring and analysis supervisor of the Clean Water Branch. "This is definitely not the time to be recreating in Hawaiian waters."
As of midnight Thursday, 243 people had gone to shelters set up throughout the county. There were 112 people at Baldwin High School in Wailuku, 41 at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei, six at King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani, 43 at the Lahaina Civic Center, five in Hana, seven on Molokai and 17 on Lanai.
About 40 agencies were represented at the county Emergency Operations Center, which was staffed throughout the night Thursday, with officials including Arakawa and Managing Director Keith Regan working in shifts.
"Our tourists were well taken care of," Arakawa said. "The communications about flight delays were done really well. We don't have any large line of tourists waiting at the airport.
"People on Maui were really good. For the most part, everybody prepared for the storm, knew about it and most people stayed home," he said.
The community's response to storm warnings helped, he said.
"We just want to thank everybody for their cooperation," Arakawa said Friday afternoon. "It was really helpful to have everybody have their food, water and supplies beforehand so we didn't have last-minute real big rushes.
"Last night and today, traffic has been very minimal, which allows our crews to clean up and take care of whatever challenges. We thank the community. We need to have a big shout-out to all the personnel that have been out there from all the county and private entities. They have been helping us all night to clear all debris from the storm."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press and Maui News Staff Writers Eileen Chao, Melissa Tanji and Chris Sugidono contributed to this report.