Late summer and early fall has brought hurricanes to both coasts of our nation. Hurricane Lane struck Hawaii, the worst storm to ever threaten the Pacific in recorded history. Thankfully, the tragedy was lessened as Lane’s full damage was mitigated just before its full force would have hit Hawaii. Even so, on the Big Island, the town of Mountain View recorded 51.53 inches of rain from Wednesday to Sunday. That is the third-highest total ever measured from a U.S. storm, with the highest total being the 60.58 inches that fell on Nederland, Texas, over several days during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. According to the National Weather Service, Lane had the third-highest “total rainfall from a tropical cyclone in the United States since 1950.”
Such incredible rainfall numbers caused mass flooding throughout the many islands of Hawaii. The National Weather Service warned of more “life-threatening” flash flooding throughout the islands, where the storm has already brought landslides, floods, and power failures. Sadly, that was not the Islands’ only problem. Alan Arakawa, the mayor of Maui, spoke to some of these issues in a press conference. He explained that three fires broke out on Maui, which could have been caused by downed power lines and spread by the incredibly high winds. By Friday afternoon, two of the fires were completely contained but still burning, and the third, totaling around 1,500 acres, was about 40 percent contained.
“We were expecting flooding, high winds, big surf — we weren’t expecting very little rain, heavy winds and a big fire,” said Mayor Arakawa. “We’re hoping for just enough rain to put out the fires, not enough rain to have mudslides after that.”
Thankfully, it seems as though the worst is over for the Aloha State. Over the last few days, the storm has calmed significantly. Lane, which is traveling only a few miles per hour, is expected to continue weakening. It has officially been downgraded to a tropical storm, which still poses risks for many Hawaiian families displaced from their homes. The National Weather Service warned that the tropical storm would continue to threaten flooding and could still produce winds of up to 70 m.p.h.
Emergency workers rushed into beleaguered cities in the Carolinas on Monday as residents struggled with the aftermath of a storm that damaged tens of thousands of homes, drenched the area with record rains and triggered floodwaters that are not expected to recede for days. Wilmington, a city of about 119,000 residents, was virtually cut off from the outside world. Water levels were rising in some places on Monday as the record-breaking rains of the storm — which made landfall as a hurricane and then drenched the region even as it weakened — pushed rivers over their banks. The authorities and volunteers in North and South Carolina carried out additional rescues by air and water, curfews were in effect, and many thousands of people remained out of their homes and many more were without power.
The winds and pounding rains were largely replaced on Monday by a different storm of sounds: roaring helicopters that delivered supplies to Wilmington; leaf blowers and chainsaws for cleanups in Charlotte; and the soft swirl of the still-rising Cape Fear River as it flowed under the Person Street Bridge and menaced Fayetteville.
“This remains a significant disaster that affects much of our state,” Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said on Monday afternoon. “The next few days will be long ones as the flooding continues.”
The authorities have blamed the storm for at least 23 deaths, including a tragic story of a 1-year-old boy who slipped out of his mother’s hands near Charlotte after their car became stuck in floodwater on Sunday evening. Evacuation orders are still being issued as rivers rise and dams are tested. The authorities in Hoke County, west of Fayetteville, told residents late Sunday to flee “due to the possible breach of the dam.” Parts of several rivers — including the Cape Fear, Little, Neuse and Rocky — are already in “major flood” stage and are rising. Flash-flood watches and warnings are in effect in many North Carolina towns, as well as in parts of South Carolina. Road closings are extensive, including to parts of Interstates 40 and 95.
The breathtaking scope of the storm’s might posed substantial challenges for the authorities through much of the Carolinas, but officials were particularly focused on Wilmington. Although some trucks with supplies were able to make it into the marooned city early Monday, the uncertainty of road conditions led the authorities to order helicopters to fly more resources into Wilmington.
Even as rescue workers, both from the government and volunteer groups, pulled more people from the water, the death toll hit 23, including 17 fatalities in North Carolina. To all those still displaced and affected by Hurricane Lane, and those recently affected or lost loved ones in Hurricane Florence, our hearts go out to you and The Kings Page wishes the everyone of the Carolinas a safe and speedy recovery.