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Torrential rains leave dozens stranded in Hawaiian shelter

LIHUE, Hawaii — Dozens of people were stranded at a Red Cross shelter on Kauai after a storm dropped over 2 feet of rain, causing massive flooding and grounding rescue helicopters.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation for the island where heavy rainfall damaged or flooded dozens of homes in Hanalei, Wainiha, Haena and Anahola.

About 40 people – mostly tourists – were stranded Sunday at Hanalei Elementary School, where the American Red Cross had opened an evacuation shelter.

“It’s a pretty scary situation,” Coralie Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross, told CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV.  “They’re completely surrounded by water. The original plan was to have them airlifted to the Church of the Pacific shelter, where food and water are waiting.”

Red Cross officials say food and water supplies ran out earlier in the day, but county crews were able to make it through the flooding to deliver more supplies. 

The Red Cross has also opened a third shelter at Koloa Elementary School for flood victims, bringing the total number of shelters open on the Garden Isle to three, the station says. The other two include Hanalei School and the Church of the Pacific location. There are about 40 people also at the Koloa shelter, officials say.    

The Kauai Fire Department was coordinating with the Coast Guard and the Honolulu Fire Department to provide air and search and rescue operations on the North Shore.

The National Weather Service recorded almost 27 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period in Hanalei.

Kauai County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said county officials had to call in off-duty firefighters, police officers and lifeguards Saturday night to rescue about a half-dozen people who were trapped by rising floodwaters in Hanalei.

The Coast Guard assisted local authorities to rescue hikers in the vicinity of Hanalei Bay on Sunday after sustained flooding and landslides due to heavy thunderstorms.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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