If you were planning a beach wedding or party in Kihei, Maui, this holiday season, think again. A major storm blew from the southwest in the first week of December 2007 flooding normally desert-like south Maui. At the storm’s worst, winds topping 60 MPH blew almost seven inches of heavy rain into Kihei’s low-lying streets causing major flooding. Many people lost their cars, pets and yards to flood waters.
Rains pushed torrents of mud and soil downslope into Kihei. Mud up to three inches deep is caked to the sidewalks. Already eroding beaches disappeared completely. One area resident, Stephanie Sachs, said, “All of the sand is gone–completely gone.” Without the sand, lifeguard towers collapsed and washed away. Standing on the grass at Grove Park and looking toward the ocean, there is a huge drop-off where the sand used to be.
The damage is significant. All of Kihei’s beaches are closed, including Kam I, Kam II, Kam III and Grove Park. Even the grassy areas are cordoned off with yellow police tape. No announcements have been made about when the beach parks will reopen.
Now that the storm has passed the danger to visitors lies underfoot. Shoe-piercing keawe thorns cover the ground. Like mini hypodermic needles, these thorns cause painful foot injuries. Crews of county workers are hard at work to remove the thorns strewn by downed keawe trees that litter the South Maui coast.
Most of the other beaches on Maui, including in Wailea, Ka’anapali and the North Shore remain open. But be prepared to fight crowds as fewer beaches will concentrate visitors on those that are accessible.
Official updates from Maui County are available at www.mauicounty.gov .