Hawaii Declares State of Emergency After Heavy Rains, Floods, and Dam Overflow

March 10, 2021 Updated: March 10, 2021

Hawaii Governor David Ige declared an emergency in the state after heavy rains brought floods, landslides and fear of dam failures, prompting evacuations in at least two counties, while flood advisories stayed in effect for a second day.

The move came after a dam overflowed on the island of Maui, forcing evacuations and destroying homes, with the dam’s “unsatisfactory” condition leading to it being scheduled for removal this year, the land department has said.

Hawaii Dam Breached
A bridge off Peahi Road is overcome by floodwaters above the Kaupakalua Reservoir and Dam after heavy rainfall in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, on March 8, 2021. (Kehaulani Cerizo/The Maui News via AP)

“The emergency proclamation makes state general funds available that can be used quickly and efficiently to help those impacted by the severe weather,” Ige said on Tuesday.

Poor weather was expected to run until Friday, he added. There were no immediate reports of deaths or casualties.

The emergency declaration covers the counties of Hawai’i, Maui, Kalawao, O’ahu and Kaua’i, the governor’s office said in a statement, while the disaster relief period runs until May 8.

Floodwaters in Maui
Floodwaters sweep over Hana Highway near West Kuiaha Road in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, on March 8, 2021. (Kehaulani Cerizo/The Maui News via AP)

In Maui, heavy rains damaged roads, leaving them impassable, with one bridge completely washed out and another displaced, the governor’s office said, as higher water levels boosted the risk of erosion and seepage.

State emergency management officials had said the rains led to the cresting of the Kaupakalua dam in the northern region of Haiku, prompting authorities to open evacuation shelters and urge people not to return home.

Six homes were heavily damaged or destroyed, said Maui mayor Michael Victorino.