The Flash Flood Of October 30, 2004

NOAA/NWS Manoa Flood October 30, 2004 Page
USGS: "Peak Flows in the Manoa Watershed"
October 31st, the day after, ITS acquires 1 MegaWatt of generators
November 2nd and 3rd
November 4
November 8: A crane crushes main water lines leading to Keller and Physical Science
Honolulu Advertiser: Manoa Flood Gallery
USA Today (Honolulu Advertiser): "Flood descimates (sic) building, work at University of Hawaii"
"Decimate" was a poor choice of words, even if they had spelled it correctly...

At about 8:15 PM Hawaii Standard Time on October 30, 2004, a flash flood, which originated with the overflow of Manoa Stream at Woodlawn Drive in Manoa Valley, swept through the UH Manoa Campus, devastating Hamilton Library and interrupting power to 35 campus buildings. This page is a collection of pointers to pictures and information about the flood.

Background (version 2)

Manoa Stream is a perennial waterway which has its source in the watershed at the back of Manoa Valley. In its normal course, the stream runs along the eastern edge of the main Manoa campus of the university, against Wa'ahila Ridge. Many parts of the upper Manoa Campus are actually at a lower elevation than the perennial course of Manoa Stream due east.

On the night of October 30th, after a day of heavy rain, the level of Manoa stream topped its banks and breaks at Woodlawn Drive Bridge. The higher ground within 100 yards south of the stream's course is at most 5 feet higher than the stream bank, before rolling off to the south and forming the somewhat steep channel that carried the water over Noelani School parking lot and into the UH campus.

The course of the October 30, 2004 flood started at Manoa Stream Woodlawn bridge flowed through the grounds of Noelani School, into the top of the UHM motor pool yard, forking above the campus security office, and creating two flows, one on East-West Road, and the other through the parking lot west of Biomed. As the water reached Maile Way through both paths, it flowed downhill to the (rather obvious when you look) primordial flood course, which runs southwest across Maile Way, McCarthy Mall, and Correa Road. Hamilton Library Phase 1 and Phase 2 are built on the flood course.

a guess at the course of the flash flood

1932 Aerial Photograph of UHM , showing the terrain without so much development. The flood course is on the right, through the cultivated land east of campus (now East Campus). Big street in foreground is University Avenue, cross street is Metcalf/Campus Road (Dole Street doesn't exist yet). View is northeast into Manoa Valley.

Ironically, this photograph was probably one of thousands that washed out onto McCarthy Mall during the flood.

Picture from:

The Curious Coincidence Of The Portrait Of Arthur Ripont Keller
Arthur Keller, first Dean of Applied Science, was an extraordinary man. As a junior faculty member, in 1911, he played on the college football team. He was politically active, and wrote Project for the extension of sewerage system of Honolulu, Hawaii: a thesis (1915) which included a plan for the improvement of drainage in lower Manoa Valley.

Although Keller's plan was implemented, its implementation had little to do with the flood of 2004. At the same time, the original copy of the plan was probably among the flood-damaged documents, and on Monday November 1, 2004, amid all of the post flood confusion, Dr. Keller's portrait, which hung in the 2nd floor of the atrium of Keller Hall, fell off the wall after 44 years. Two questions are raised:

  • Does Keller haunt Keller?
  • Why do people after whom buildings are named tend to have uncommon middle names?

    More Keller Stuff:
    UH College Of Engineering History Page
    ASCE Hawaii History Blurbs

  • main web page during the aftermath