5 rescued from flooding as Hurricane Lane pelts Hawaii

HONOLULU — Hurricane Lane unleashed torrents of rain and landslides that blocked roads on Hawaii’s mostly rural Big Island on Thursday as residents and tourists in the state’s biggest city braced for the dangerous storm to come their way.

Emergency workers rescued five people from a flooded house in Hilo after a nearby gulch overflowed, said Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe. They weren’t injured and were taken to a shelter, he said.

On the state’s most populated island, which is about 200 miles north of the Big Island, employees of the Sheraton Waikiki resort filled sandbags to protect the Oahu oceanfront hotel from surging surf. Stores along Waikiki’s glitzy Kalakaua Avenue stacked sandbags along the bottom of their glass windows to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding.

Hurricane Lane, which was still offshore, already lashed the Big Island with nearly 20 inches of rain in nearly 24 hours and was moving closer, putting it and Maui “in the thick” of the storm, National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye said. The agency says the storm has weakened to a Category 3 but can still cause major damage.

The hurricane, which was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, was expected to move close to or over portions of the main islands later Thursday or Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet, forecasters said.

Lane was not projected to make a direct hit on the islands, but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm. Some areas could see up to 30 inches of rain.

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