Hawaii's tourists relax on the beach as storm-hit residents struggle

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 4:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 6:54am


Tourists in Oahu and other popular parts of Hawaii returned to the beaches and residents lined up to vote in primary elections on Saturday, a day after Tropical Storm Iselle struck without causing a widespread disaster.

However, a large rural part of Big Island has been without electricity for a day and a half and is struggling to clear many fallen trees that are blocking roads.

On the island of Kauai, the body of a 19-year-old woman was found. It is believed she was swept away in a stream on Friday while hiking in a closed park during a tropical storm warning.

Iselle made landfall over Big Island's lower Puna region - a sparsely populated, mostly agricultural area - in the isolated southeastern part of the island, bringing with it heavy rain and violent winds that toppled trees.

Yet umbrellas, surfboards and kayaks were back in use on Saturday at Waikiki Beach. Although it remained damp and cloudy at the popular tourist spot people were still jogging, swimming and lying on the beach as the focus shifted towards Hurricane Julio.

The storm was expected to pass about 255km northeast of the islands at its closest point yesterday and linger in the area today.

Darryl Oliveira, director of Hawaii County Civil Defence, said he was concerned there may be injured people that rescuers had yet to reach. "We're hopeful that, even with the damage, we don't have casualties that are unaccounted for," he said.

Officials are struggling to reach many areas because the roads are blocked by fallen trees.

In the Puna region, about 9,200 out of about 40,000 residents were waiting for electricity to be restored yesterday. "It's like camping now," said resident Gene Lamkin, who has been using a portable generator for power since Thursday.