LIHUE, Hawaii -- The Kauai Fire Department since April has rescued
scores of visitors who have become stranded in various parts of the
island as heavy rains have caused raging waters around streams and
The most recent rescue occurred earlier this month, when Kauai
firefighters rescued eight visitors stranded at Kipu Falls.
Two of the visitors were swept over the 20-foot-high waterfall,
and one broke a leg, said Kauai fire battalion chief Ernie Moniz.
Two others were trapped above the falls, and four were trapped near
the pool below.
"We used a helicopter, ropes and netting to get them out," said
In April, 21 campers returning from a trek on the popular Napali
Coast were stranded for three days when rising water made the
Hanakapiai stream impassable. None of the 21 was injured.
Bad weather made a helicopter rescue impossible, so the fire
department brought in food and blankets and ferried the campers
across the stream with ropes.
Kauai Visitors Bureau executive director Sue Kanoho said
visitors should always ask a local person about the weather before
beginning a hike in the mountains.
"We are so aware of the weather here. If visitors have any
contact with locals or the outfitters, they are probably warned;
but if they just grab a guidebook and go out, that's when they run
into problems," said Kanoho.
Even though the island is relatively small, weather patterns
vary greatly. It can be sunny and dry in one place and rainy and
flooding in another. The fire chief added that most people "don't
realize how fast a stream will rise and sweep you away when it
The visitors bureau recommends that hikers call its information
line to check on the safety of a particular area. The number is