This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Lane near Hawaii on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. Hurricane Lane soaked Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday, and the The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to 30 inches before the system passes. (NOAA via AP)

5 tourists rescued from flooded home as storm hits Hawaii

Emergency crews rescued five California tourists following Hurricane Lane

Sirens wailed while workers piled sandbags in front of hotels and police blared warnings to tourists to leave the world-famous Waikiki Beach as Hurricane Lane barrelled north after dumping nearly 2 feet of rain on Hawaii’s mostly rural Big Island.

Emergency crews rescued five California tourists from a home they were renting in Hilo after a nearby gulch overflowed and it flooded Thursday.

Suzanne Demerais said a tiny waterfall and small stream flowed near the home when she first arrived with four of her friends from the Los Angeles area. But the stream turned into a torrent and the river rose rapidly over 24 hours. Hawaii County firefighters, who were in touch with the home’s owner, decided to evacuate the group before the water rose further. They floated the five out on their backs, Demerais said.

“It was quite an experience because we weren’t planning to have a hurricane during our vacation time,” Demerais said.

RELATED: Hawaii residents prepare for Hurricane Lane

Hurricane Lane, which was still offshore, lashed the Big Island with nearly 20 inches (50 centimetres) of rain in about 24 hours. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (193 kph), making it a Category 3 hurricane.

Forecasters say it will move close to or over portions of Hawaii’s main islands later Thursday or Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet (6 metres).

About 200 miles (320 kilometres) north of Hilo, on the state’s most populated island of Oahu, employees of the Sheraton Waikiki resort filled sandbags to protect the oceanfront hotel from surging surf.

Stores along Waikiki’s glitzy Kalakaua Avenue stacked sandbags along the bottom of their glass windows to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding.

Police on loudspeakers told surfers and swimmers to get out of the water, saying the beach would be closed until further notice.

The Marriott Resort Waikiki Beach in Honolulu designated a ballroom on the third floor as a shelter for guests and began removing lounge chairs from around the pool and bar area.

At the Hilton Hawaiian Village, guest Elisabeth Brinson said hotel staff left a notice that the rooms will still have water and phone service, and a backup generator would power one elevator per building in the event of a power outage.

Brinson, a native of the United Kingdom now living in Denver, said many shops were closed, and those still open were frantic with people buying food, beer and water to take back to their rooms.

“We knew it was coming, so I tried to just cram as much as I could into the last few days in anticipation so we could cross things off of our list,” said Brinson, who is accustomed to hurricanes after living in Florida.

Lane was not projected to make a direct hit on the islands, but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm. Some areas could see up to 30 inches (about 80 centimetres) of rain.

RELATED: Big Island feels the effects of approaching Hurricane Lane

United Airlines cancelled its Friday flights to and from Maui. The airline added two additional flights from Honolulu to San Francisco on Thursday to help transport people off the islands.

Hawaiian Airlines cancelled all Friday flights by its commuter carrier, Ohana by Hawaiian.

Hawaii’s biggest hotels are confident they can keep their guests safe as long as they stay inside, said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association.

“The only concern is those that venture outside of the properties, that would like to hike on a day like this or who would like to still go into the ocean and see what it’s like to take a swim or surf in these kind of waters,” Hannemann said.

Honolulu shopping malls and office buildings closed early on Thursday and planned to shut their doors Friday.

Shelters were open throughout the islands, with 350 people in them in Oahu. Aid agencies were also working to help Hawaii’s sizable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.

Because there’s not enough shelter space statewide, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis urged people who were not in flood zones to stay home.

The National Weather Service downgraded the Big Island to a tropical storm warning, meaning it expects sustained winds of 39 mph (62 kph) to 73 mph (117 kph) on the island instead of stronger hurricane force winds.

But a hurricane warning remains in effect for Oahu and Maui County.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.

Because people in Hawaii are confined to the islands, they have to make sure they have enough supplies to outlast power outages and other potential emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency moved several barges packed with food, water, generators and other supplies into the region ahead of Hurricane Hector, which skirted past the islands more than a week ago, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

School District 8 swears in new board

Four new trustees join the Kootenay Lake board of education

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Tigz Designs making Christmas merry for Swan Valley Lodge residents

Lori Cameron and her husband, Bill, expect to deliver 90 gift bags to Swan Valley Lodge residents.

Proportional Representation makes your vote count

We can lead the rest of the country with democratic reform.

Enhancing recreational opportunities on Basin Trails

This program is one of the ways the Trust is addressing its strategic priority to support recreation and physical activity in the region.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Trudeau says he won’t negotiate in public on future of LGBTQ rights in USMCA

Legislators urged Trump not to sign the agreement unless the language was removed.

Most Read