Tropical Storm Lane: Hawaii battered by torrential rains, winds

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This photo provided by Jessica Henricks shows flooding Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, Wailuku River near Hilo, Hawaii. Hurricane Lane brought torrential rains to Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui before the storm was expected to hit Oahu. A powerful hurricane unleashed torrents of rain and landslides Thursday that blocked roads on the rural Big Island but didn’t scare tourists away from surfing and swimming at popular Honolulu beaches still preparing get pummeled by the erratic storm. (Jessica Henricks via AP)

A powerful hurricane that threatened Hawaii for a week rapidly disintegrated to become a tropical storm south of Honolulu. But meteorologists warned heavy rains could still wallop the islands with flash flooding and punishing winds.

Lane dumped nearly 3 feet of rain on parts of the Big Island of Hawaii over the past two days, forcing residents to flee their homes in waist-high water and officials to clear a series of landslides.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said people need to be vigilant and not let their guard down. But he was happy to hear the storm deteriorated.

“The good news is Lane got weak and fell apart. We dodged a bullet,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

Lane roared toward the island chain early this week as the most powerful type of hurricane measured: a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. That meant it was likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157 mph or above. But upper-level winds known as shear swiftly tore the storm apart.

Lane lashes Hawaii’s Big Island

Lane continued lashed the Big Island Friday with torrential downpours, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reported. The Big Island appears to have taken the brunt of Lane. More than three feet of rain in some places triggered widespread flooding and closed roads.

The main town of Hilo, population 43,000, was flooded Friday with waist-high water as landslides shut down roads.

Margaret Collins, 69, woke up Thursday night to sounds in her Hilo backyard.

“So I got up out of bed and looked out my bedroom window and saw water 3 feet high gushing past my window,” she said.

“And that’s when I realized I was standing in water.”

Collins called a neighbor for help, who crawled through bushes to bring her out of the house, half-carrying her as she clutched a plastic bag with medication.

The water knocked down a cement wall and lifted her truck out of the carport, sending it toward her neighbor’s house, she said.

“My house is completely inundated with mud-water,” said Collins, who was told the damage wouldn’t be covered by insurance. She hopes she can get federal assistance.

Blaze breaks out at Oahu power plant

More than 100 customers lost power Friday as firefighters battled a wildfire near Kahe Power Plant on Oahu. The fire started around noon local time (6 p.m. ET), and was caused when two high voltage lines came in contact with one another due to storm winds — sparking the blaze, KGMB reports.

Officials said the flames came within 10 feet of several homes in the Kahe Point area at one point.

Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said there was a fire break around the plant, so it is not threatened. At least one person was been treated for smoke inhalation.

Brisk winds were complicating efforts to fight the fire, he said. And the strong winds were preventing water drops from the air.

“It’s definitely been challenging,” he said. “The winds are not only strong, but unpredictable in direction.”

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