(BIVN) – Highway 11 in Kaʻū was closed Friday morning due to flooding, as heavy rain continues to soak Hawaiʻi island.
UPDATE – (10 a.m.) – Kaʻū High & Pahala Elementary and Naʻalehu Elementary are closed due to flooding in the area, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education announced on Friday.
Hawaiʻi Police say Highway 11 in the area of Kawa Bay from mile marker 56 to 62 will remain closed until it is determined safe to travel. There are no alternate routes open at this time, officials say.
A Flash Flood Warning was posted for the windward side of Kaʻu at 9:18 a.m. HST. “Heavy rainfall has been occurring in the Kaʻū District from the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to Naʻalehu with rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour,” the National Weather Service stated. “Low water crossings along Wood Valley Road are also expected to be impassable.”
Hawaiʻi County officials have opened two shelters in Kaʻū due to the highway closure. The shelters are located at the Nāʻālehu Community Center and the Robert Herkes Gymnasium in Pāhala. The shelters “will remain open throughout the day and possibly into the evening, pending need and weather,” a County news release stated.
The County also says a vehicle in Kaʻū was swept off the roadway and into an embankment after entering an active road closure zone. Officials are asking the public to remain vigilant and follow all signage, barricades, and diversions for their safety.
Police also said motorists can expect delays on Highway 19 along the Hāmākua coast near the Honomu Road junction. They say the Hilo bound lane is closed due to a landslide.
The County says it has not requested the cancellation of any planned outdoor events or activities at this time, “but reminds residents that closures and/or cancellations may be necessary with little to no notice, pending the severity of the weather impacts.” However, there is one exception. The County of Hawaiʻi Parks and Recreation track meet scheduled for tomorrow, February 18, at Waiākea High School has been canceled.