August 24, 2018 / 3:12 AM / a year ago

As Hurricane Lane's wind weakens, Hawaii braces for the rains

(Reuters) - In the town of Hanalei on Hawaii’s northern most island of Kauai, light rain was falling on Thursday, a foretaste of the torrential downpours expected this weekend as residents, businesses and tourists prepared for Hurricane Lane.

Kayak Hanalei owner Dave Stewart who has moved all the company’s kayaks to high ground and boarded up all windows on his business in advance of Hurricane Lane, points to the high water mark from when the Hanalei River flooded in April 2018, in Hanalei, on the north shore of Kauai, in Hawaii, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Sue Horton

Dave Stewart, owner of Kayak Hanalei, had boarded up all the windows on his shop by mid-afternoon Thursday and moved the company’s rental kayaks to high ground.

He said he was not taking any chances, having been here through severe flooding on Kauai’s North Shore in April and through Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

“That was total destruction,” he recalled of the last hurricane to make landfall here. “Seven out of 10 telephone poles were down, so even if your house was OK, you couldn’t get out.”

While Lane has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, with sustained winds of up to 125 miles per hour (200 km per hour), it is already unleashing torrential rain in parts of Hawaii.

The National Hurricane Center said it may produce disastrous rainfall, flooding and landslides over much of the island chain, in addition to battering surf, coastal flooding and high winds through Saturday.

Long Island resident Denise Cutter, who is vacationing in Hanalei on Kauai Island, said a possible hurricane was not something she expected “when we planned this vacation last summer.”

But she was not worried. “We made it through (Hurricane) Sandy in New York, and we’re going to make it through this,” she said.

Chocolate maker and retailer Seneca Klassen, 48, of Honolulu, spent all of Wednesday at his 13-acre cacao farm, trimming trees with a chain saw and clearing dead wood and debris.

“The last thing we want is dead wood flying around.”

The farm produces cacao for Klassen’s Lonohana Estate Chocolate, which has a store in Honolulu’s trendy Kakaako district. He opened the store as usual Thursday but was worried about flooding.

In the Kailua town of Oahu Island, last-minute shoppers were stocking up at Whole Foods super market, where windows were boarded up bracing for strong winds.

A row of water shelves had been cleaned out, except for a few dozen bottles of fizzy water. An entire aisle of candles at Target in Kailua was empty except for a couple of packs of votives and a dozen scented candles.

Reporting by Sue Horton; Writing by Bill Tarrant; additional reporting by Jolyn Rosa and Diana Craft; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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