Tropical Storm Olivia brings Hawaii dam near capacity; thousands may be necessary to evacuate

Emergency workers gather near the Nuuanu Reservoir in Oahu, Hawaii.


Officials in Hawaii said Thursday that up to 10,000 residents of Oahu you may need to leave their homes after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Olivia filled the Nuuanu Reservoir, near capacity, although they later said that there is no danger that the dam would fail.

The Honolulu Board of Water (BWS) said the water level in the reservoir rose 4 to 5 feet overnight and was about 18 inches below the spillway of Nuuanu Dam No. 1.

BWS said and the Honolulu Fire department are “employed on the dam with water pumps to the level of the reservoir further down.” The leaves can be used to cause the release of water from the dam, but that would lead to a number of flooding downstream.

“This is not a dam breach situation now,” BWS Chief Engineer Ernie Lau told reporters Thursday. “We are nowhere near to it.”

The agency, which is the water utility for nearly 1 million people in Honolulu and the surrounding cities on Oahu, said it would coordinate with the city on a possible evacuation notice.

Andreas Pereira, a spokesman for the city, urged the residents to be aware of the situation.

“While it seems like the rain is less, we are taking a cautious approach and ask residents to stay alert,” he said in an e-mail.

Olivia was downgraded to a tropical depression Thursday, a day after the crossing of the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall on Maui and Lanai. However, forecasters warned the rain would continue, producing additional rainfall of 3 to 5 inches and isolated amounts of 6 to 8 inches in higher terrain.

That could lead to life-threatening floods because the ground is already saturated, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said in a statement.

President Trump has signed a disaster declaration, which will help FEMA respond, Gov. David Ige said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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