PHOTO UPDATE: Flash Flood Warning Now in Effect

Chong Street in Hilo, Nov. 30, 2017, 3 p.m.

Chong Street in Hilo, Nov. 30, 2017, 3 p.m.

A 62-year-old woman and 61-year-old man were recently swept down the Wailuku River near Rainbow Falls State Park.

UPDATE: Nov. 30, 2017, 3:30 p.m.

A Flash Flood Watch in effect for the Big Island and Maui has been extended through Friday afternoon.

UPDATE: Nov. 30, 2017, 2:30 p.m.

A Flash Flood Warning update has been issued for portions of the Big Island on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

Private road off Chong Street becomes private stream in Hilo, Nov. 30, 2017, 3 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for the windward and southeastern areas of Hawai‘i Island—the districts of windward Kohala, Hāmākua, Hilo, Puna and Ka‘ū.

Locations in the warning include but are not limited to Hilo, Pa‘auilo, Waipio Valley, Orchidland Estates, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Kamuela, Honoka‘a, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Pāhoa, Hawaiian Acres,
Mountain View and Glenwood.

The Hawai‘i County Police Department reports multiple road closures in Hilo due to flooding:

  • Kamehameha Avenue between Pauahi Street and Ponahawai Street. Traffic is now rerouted through Bayfront Highway.
  • Pauahi Street between Aupuni Street and Kamehameha Avenue.
  • East Kawailani Street between Ho‘onani Street and Ahuna Street.
  • Kukila Street near Railroad Avenue.

Hawai‘i County Parks and Recreation Department reports all parks, gyms, swimming pools and community centers in Hāmākua, Hilo and Puna are closed.

A shelter has been opened at the Butler Building near the Hilo Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium for those who may need it.

Due to very dangerous flooding conditions, heavy rain and road closures, the following advisories are issued:

  • All residents in flood prone areas are asked to take necessary precautions and remain on alert for flooding conditions. Consider cancelling or postponing activities where possible. Do not drive unless necessary.
  • If you must drive, be on the alert for debris, runoffs, and ponding of water. You should expect delays, plan ahead and drive with caution as driving conditions are poor.
  • Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on foot.
  • Be aware that additional road closures may occur without notice.

UPDATE: Nov. 30, 2017, noon.

A Flash Flood Warning is now in effect for Hawai‘i County until 2:45 p.m.

At 11:48 a.m., heavy rain continued to fall over the windward
slopes of the Big Island.

Recent rain bands have been affecting
the lower elevations and are causing more significant flooding impacts to occur along the Hāmākua, Hilo and Puna areas of the  island.

Additional rainfall is expected to develop over the windward slopes through the day.

Locations in the warning include but are not limited to Hilo, Pa‘auilo, Waipio Valley, Orchidland Estates, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Kamuela, Honoka‘a, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Pāhoa, Hawaiian Acres,  Mountain View and Glenwood.

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A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring in
streams, roads, and low lying areas. Move to higher ground now.

Do not cross fast flowing water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn
around, don’t drown.

This warning may need to be extended beyond 2:45 p.m. if heavy rain
persists.

This flash flood warning replaces the previously issued flood  advisory that was in effect for portions of the island of Hawai‘i in Hawai‘i County.

ORIGINAL POST: Nov. 30, 2017, 10:11 a.m.

A Flood Advisory for the Big Island is in effect for Hawai‘i County until 1 p.m.

Water continues to rise at Chong Street swim hole, Hilo. Nov. 30, 2017, noon.

Thursday, Nov. 30, the National Weather Service disclosed at 9:58 a.m. this morning.

At 9:55 a.m., radar indicated heavy rain across the windward and southeastern portions of the Big Island.

Rain was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour.

Raging Rainbow Falls, Nov 30, 2017.

Hawai‘i County has closed some roads in the affected area due to ponding on roadways.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Hilo, Na‘alehu, Pa‘auilo, Waipio Valley, Orchidland Estates, Kukuihaele, Hawi, Pepe‘ekeo, Kea‘au, Kamuela, Honoka‘a and O‘okala.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.
Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 1 p.m. if heavy rain persists.

A Flash Flood Watch is also in effect for the Big Island through 6 p.m. today.

RELATED LINK

 

Fern Acres flooding, Nov. 30, 2017, 1 p.m.

Fern Acres road, Nov. 30, 2017, 1 p.m.

HAWAI‘I TRAFFIC ALERT: Hilo Roads Closed Due to Flooding

High water at Chong Street swim hole, Hilo. Nov. 30, 2017, 10:15 a.m.

NOAA satellite image, Nov. 30, 2017, 11:30 a.m.

Flooded Bayfront Park soccer fields in Hilo. Nov. 30, 10:40 a.m.

Mohouli Street flooding, Hilo, Nov. 30, 2017, 12:15 p.m.

Mohouli Street extension, flooding on Nov. 30, 2107, at around noon. The photographer had never seen water here previously.

Raging Rainbow Falls, Nov 30, 2017.

Army Corp of Engineer’s flood control project to prevent Bayfront from flooding. Nov. 30, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Army Corp of Engineer’s flood control project to prevent Bayfront from flooding. Nov. 30, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Normally dry river beds behind UH Hilo dorms. Nov. 30, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

Normally dry river beds behind UH Hilo dorms. Nov. 30, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

The Gas Company in Hilo tries to prevent water from entering underground tanks. Nov. 30, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

The Gas Company in Hilo tries to prevent water from entering underground tanks. Nov. 30, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, Nov. 30, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

HPD Seeking Theft Suspect

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is asking the publics help in identifying the person whose image was captured by store security in connection with a theft from a Downtown Hilo store.

HPD surveillance image.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, an adult male shoplifted an item from a Downtown Hilo Store. His image was captured by store security.

The male is described as being Caucasian, with fair complexion, brown wavy hair, wearing a black and gray baseball cap, pink T-shirt.

Police ask anyone who knows the identity of this person in the photo to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Officer Alric Dalere at (808) 961-2213.

UH Researchers Discover New Fish – The Marianna Snailfish

The ocean’s deepest fish doesn’t look like it could survive in harsh conditions thousands of feet below the surface. Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fishes that roam the deepest parts of the ocean are small, translucent, bereft of scales — and highly adept at living where few other organisms can.

A specimen of the new species, Mariana snailfish. Credit: Mackenzie Gerringer, UW and UH.

Meet the deepest fish in the ocean, a new species named the Mariana snailfish by an international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), that discovered it. The Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) thrives at depths of up to about 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the Mariana Trench near Guam. The team published a paper describing the new species this week in the journal Zootaxa.

“This is the deepest fish that’s been collected from the ocean floor, and we’re very excited to have an official name,” said lead author Mackenzie Gerringer, graduate student at SOEST at the time of this work and current postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. “They don’t look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful.”

Snailfish are found at many different depths in marine waters around the world. In deep water, they cluster together in groups and feed on tiny crustaceans and shrimp using suction from their mouths to gulp prey. Very little is known about how these fish can live under intense water pressure; the pressure at those depths is similar to an elephant standing on your thumb.

This new species appears to dominate parts of the Mariana Trench, the deepest stretch of ocean in the world that is located in the western Pacific Ocean. During research trips in 2014 and 2017 aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor, scientists collected 37 specimens of the new species from depths of about 6,900 meters (22,600 feet) to 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the trench. DNA analysis and 3-D scanning to analyze skeletal and tissue structures helped researchers determine they had found a new species.

Since then, a research team from Japan has recorded footage of the fish swimming at depths of 8,178 meters (26,830 feet), the deepest sighting so far.

“Snailfishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deep trenches. Here they are free of predators, and the funnel shape of the trench means there’s much more food,” said co-author Thomas Linley of Newcastle University. “There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator. They are active and look very well-fed.”

A handful of researchers have explored the Mariana Trench, but very few comprehensive surveys of the trench and its inhabitants have been completed because of its depth and location, Gerringer explained. These research trips involved dropping traps with cameras down to the bottom of the trench. It can take four hours for a trap to sink to the bottom.

After waiting an additional 12 to 24 hours, the researchers sent an acoustic signal to the trap, which then released weights and rose to the surface with the help of flotation. That allowed scientists to catch fish specimens and take video footage of life at the bottom of the ocean.

“There are a lot of surprises waiting,” Gerringer said. “It’s amazing to see what lives there. We think of it as a harsh environment because it’s extreme for us, but there’s a whole group of organisms that are very happy down there.”

The Mariana snailfish’s location was its most distinguishing characteristic, but researchers also saw a number of differences in physiology and body structure that made it clear they had found a new species. With the help of a CT scanner at the UW’s Friday Harbor Labs, the researchers could look in close digital detail to study elements of the fish.

The authors, including SOEST oceanography faculty Jeffrey Drazen and Erica Goetze, acknowledge the broad collaboration needed for deep-sea science, particularly in this discovery, and decided the new fish’s scientific name should reflect that collaborative effort. The fish is named after a sailor, Herbert Swire, an officer on the HMS Challenger expedition in the late 1800s that first discovered the Mariana Trench, and in recognition of the critical role of crew members on board research vessels.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Schmidt Ocean Institute and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland.

Possible Cause of Pilot Whale Stranding Detailed

During a House of Representatives informational briefing today to discuss research conducted and findings regarding the stranding of 17 pilot whales on Kauai in October, state and federal agencies told lawmakers they are looking into rat poison and sonar as potential causes of the deaths of five whales.

Rep. Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo), chair of the Energy & Environmental Protection committee and Rep. Kaniela Ing (Kihei, Wailea, Makena), chair of the Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs, held the briefing after hearing public and cultural concerns about the stranding of the whales.

“It’s important that we look into these type of stranding to see what effects human pesticides, debris and noise have on the wildlife in our oceans,” said Rep. Lee. “And to see what can be done to prevent this type of thing in the future.”

David Schofield, the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Region Office, said there has been an increase in strandings over time due to stress from pollutants in the oceans.

“What we use on the land ends up in the sea,” Schofield said.

Rep. Ing asked about the possible cause of this stranding.

“When marine mammals strand themselves it’s usually a signal that something in our environment is out of sync,” said Ing. “Hearing from experts provides valuable information as we decided how to address this issue and prevent further harm. We are confident that NOAA and the other agencies will work on finding a solution and also do so by respecting the native Hawaiian community’s rights to malama and repatriate the mammals after they have completed their work.”

Kristi West, a Research Scientist and an Affiliate Faculty member at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, said possible causes include sickness, social bonds, bio toxins, marine debris, tidal changes and noise that effect the animal’s inner ear such as sonar.

West, who directs necropsy and cause of death investigations when whales and dolphins strand throughout Hawaii, said tissue samples and the stomach content of the animals will be analyzed to help determine the cause of death for these animals.

West’s area of expertise is focused on understanding causes of mortality and what factors threaten the survival of the 20 different species of dolphins and whales found in Hawaiian waters.

Kauai Representative Dee Morikawa (Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea), who witnessed the stranding, asked if there could be any link between the pilot whale beaching and the recent dropping of rat poison on nearby Lehua Island.

“I want to make sure we have an agency we can trust looking into this and getting the correct information out,” Morikawa said. “I’m so suspicious there will be a cover up. It’s too coincidental that so soon after the rat poison is dropped, we have this stranding. These whales eat the squid that may have eaten the poison dropped in the ocean. That is what I suspect happened.”

West said she is also anxious to determine a cause of death, but it will take about six weeks to get test results back from the laboratories. The results will be shared with lawmakers, she said.

Rep. James Kunane Tokioka (Wailua Homelands, Hanamaulu, Lihue, Puhi, Old Koloa Town, Omao) asked if the squid and other food eaten by the whales will also be tested for poison. West said now that she is aware of the possibility of the rat poison be passed on by ingesting the squid, it will also be tested.

Tokioka asked if there was any evidence that the whales had been harmed from acoustic trauma from sonar.

Schofield said there is no evidence so far and that the U.S. Navy reported no training taking place using sonar within five miles and 24 hours of the stranding.

West said there is a population of about 19,500 pilot whales in the waters within 200 miles of the Hawaiian Islands and on average, one pilot whale dies from stranding a year.

In this case, 17 pilot whales were beached, five died and the rest returned to the open ocean

Rainbow Fall Victims Identified as California Couple

Hawai‘i Island Police are investigating the drowning of a 62-year-old woman and 61-year-old man after they were swept down the Wailuku River near Rainbow Falls State Park.

At 12:39 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, police and fire personnel responded to the state park for a report of a couple who fell into the water while crossing the river above the falls.

The woman was officially identified as Gladys Novinger earlier today.

Friends and family of Novinger have identified the male victim as George (Tom) Novinger.

However, the Hawaiʻi Fire Department has not officially released the name of the male victim. The department will renew the search for his body tomorrow morning.

According to the Vineyard Hacienda’s business website, Novinger was a recently retired diplomat for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service.

Six Rescued From Sinking Vessel Off Hawaiʻi Island

The Coast Guard, and good Samaritans rescued six fishermen from the 57-foot fishing vessel, Jane, reportedly taking on water 110 miles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

The six fishermen were rescued by the crew of the 70-foot fishing vessel VAK 2 and are en route to Hawaiʻi, where they will be met by emergency medical services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

VAK 2. PC Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

“This crew did exactly what they should by calling the Coast Guard to report their situation and abandoned ship safely into their life raft,” said Chief Petty Officer Robert Scott, command duty officer Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We appreciate the assistance of the good Samaritans aboard the VAK 2 to quickly get these mariners to safety.”

At 7:22 a.m., watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu command center received a mayday call via satellite phone from one of the crewmembers aboard the Jane stating they were taking on water and in need of immediate assistance.

Sector Honolulu watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast notice to mariners and requested the assistance of the VAK 2 crew, five miles away from the scene.

At 7:40 a.m., an HC-130 Hercules aircrew and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched to the scene along with the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake (WPB 87316), an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in Honolulu.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene at 9:40 a.m. They quickly located the fishing vessel overturned and a life raft with all six of the crew inside 100 yards away.

Weather on scene was reported as 14-foot seas, 34 mph winds and scattered thunderstorms.

The Coast Guard issued a broadcast notice to mariners advising mariner in the area of the possible hazard to navigation posed by the overturned fishing vessel.

The cause of incident is under investigation. The Jane and the VAK 2 are reportedly tuna longliners homeported in Honolulu.

LETTER: ‘Administration Has Done a Poor Job Interacting With Public’

Mayor Harry Kim’s administration has done a poor job interacting with the public over the first year he’s been in office. It hasn’t helped that he’s repeated the same mistakes that plagued his last term.

These mistakes include imposing restrictions on how I interact with Department of Public Works employees.

I believe his administration really needs to reevaluate how public inquiries, and dissemination of information is handled. He promised to run Hawaii County in more transparent, and honest, manner. I have yet to see his administration fulfill latter campaign promise. Transparency in County government has actually taken two steps back from the previous administration it seems like.

The first step in addressing this issue is doing a better job acknowledging and responding to public feedback. This could done by leveraging social media, blogs, newspapers, etc, to get the word out to his constituents.

For example, the mayor of Maui has an Ask The Mayor column in the Maui newspapers, which posts frequent questions posed by the public to his office.

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.

Female Rainbow Falls Drowning Victim Identified

Hawai‘i Island Police are investigating the possible drowning of a 62-year-old woman and are continuing the search for a 61-year-old man after they were swept down the Wailuku River.

At 12:39 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25, police and fire personnel responded to the Rainbow Falls State Park for a report of a couple who fell into the water while crossing the river above the falls.

The woman was found in the pool below the falls and was extricated by the fire department’s helicopter. She was then taken by ambulance to the Hilo Medical Center where she later died at 4:25 p.m. She has been identified as Gladys Novinger of Spring Valley, Calif.

The missing man has not yet been located and search efforts were suspended this morning due to dangerous conditions. His identity is being withheld pending notification of his next-of-kin.

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing the investigation into the woman’s death as an unattended death. An autopsy was conducted this morning, (November 27), but the exact cause of her death is being deferred pending toxicology results.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any other information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Dean Uyetake of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2379 or Dean.Uyetake@hawaiicounty.gov.

Hawaiʻi May See Snow, Downpours & Flash Flooding This Week

Hawaiʻi residents may face snow, flash flooding and landslides as a plume of deep tropical moisture is expected to surge northward to Hawaiʻi this week that will provide the fuel for heavier and more frequent downpours for some of the islands.

Hawaiʻi residents and vacationers will need to be on alert.

“The first round of heavy rainfall is expected on Monday and Tuesday, with torrential downpours focusing on the Big Island and Maui,” AccuWeather meteorologist Faith Eherts said.

Stronger-than-normal northeasterly trade winds will blow across the islands and up the windward slopes, and by combining with the deep tropical moisture will lead to very heavy rainfall.

“Rainfall rates of up to 2 inches per hour can result in dangerous flash flooding as well as landslides, which could topple trees and power lines and block or wash out roads,” Eherts warned.

Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches are expected for Hilo and other windward coastal areas into the midweek, with higher amounts farther inland across the Big Island and Maui.

It will be cold enough across the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa for heavy snowfall during this time. A few inches are expected with localized amounts of up to a foot possible. Hikers will need to be vigilant and keep a close eye on weather conditions.

While rainfall amounts will be less on the leeward side of the islands, moisture may wrap around at times and lead to heavier showers.

Moloka‘i, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi will miss out on the heaviest rain, but a slight uptick in moisture will still bring more numerous and enhanced trade showers over the next few days.

Northeastward-facing coasts will face elevated surf this week thanks to the strong trade winds. Occasional wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph will also occur.

The first part of the week will be very wet across some of the Hawaiian Islands, but the second half of the week and into the weekend could be just as wet, if not wetter.

Deep tropical moisture will remain strung out over Hawaiʻi and there are indications that an area of low pressure could develop in the area by Friday. If this were to occur, there could be widespread enhanced showers for some or even all of the islands.

“Another round of heavy rain would exacerbate any existing flooding or bring new flooding problems to the other islands,” Eherts said.

Rob Gray Wins Ultraman World Championship

The 33rd anniversary of the Ultraman World Championships finished on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Kailua-Kona.

Rob Gray. PC Ultraman

Rob Gray, 41, from Boulder, Colorado, was the first to complete the long distance endurance race at a total combined time of 22:19:48. This was the third Ultraman that Gray has completed in and was also the winner of the 2016 Florida Ultraman.

The Ultraman is a three-day, 320-mile (515km) individual ultra-endurance event which takes place here on the Big Island.

Founded in 1983, the event is held annually on the traditional Thanksgiving weekend.

Entries are limited to 40 participants and is by invitation only.

This year’s race started on Friday, Nov. 24, at 6:30 a.m. with a 6.2 mile (10 km) ocean swim from Kailua Bay to Keauhou Bay, followed by a 90 mile (145 km) cross-country bike ride from Keauhou Bay around the southern tip of the island via Route 11 to finish at Kīlauea Military Camp in the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.

This one-day vertical climb totals 8,000 feet.

The second stage of the race began on Saturday, Nov. 25, at 6:30 a.m. and it was a 171.4 mile (276 km) bike ride, from Volcanoes National Park (Route 11) to Kea‘au, then turning east with a counter-clockwise loop through Kalapana, Kapoho and Pāhoa, then on through the City of Hilo.

From Hilo, the route continues north along the Hāmākua Coast (Route 19) to Waimea, and over the Kohala Mountains via Route 250 to finish at Kamehameha Park in Kapa‘au, just north of Hawi town.

This vertical climbs total 8,600 feet.

The third and final stage of the race began on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 6 a.m. and it was a 52.4 mile (84 km) double-marathon run from Hawi to Kawaihae (Route 270), then on to Kailua-Kona via Route 19 finishing at the Old Airport Park.

Each stage had to be completed in 12 hours or less. The participants that did not reach the respective finish lines within the 12 hour limits were disqualified. However, that did not preclude one from starting the next day’s stage as long as he/she was medically able to do so, as determined by staff medical personnel. Those athletes were considered an “Unofficial Participant” and not eligible for post-race awards.

Participants from all over the world competed. Most of athletes have participated in at least one previous ULTRAMAN. Each of the athletes were accompanied by an individual support team of at least two persons over the entire course. Many of these team members were volunteers from the Big Island.

Day 3 and Final Results:

 

Rainbow Falls Claims Two Lives

The Hawaiʻi Fire Department has confirmed that two people lost their lives on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, near Rainbow Falls.

The Hawaii Fire Department continued their search for a male body on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2017. Big Island Now photo

Four people went swimming above Rainbow Falls and two of them got swept away. One female victim was rescued at the base of Rainbow Falls and a search continues for the male victim.

The fire chief who was on hand on Sunday, Nov. 26, at Rainbow Falls, believes that they were tourists from the mainland.

Saturday, The Hawai‘i Fire Department arrived 12:40 p.m., and within the first 10 to 15 minutes, witnesses reported that a man and a woman were having difficulty swimming in a pond above of Rainbow Falls. The two were seen going under and not seen again.

The female was found unconscious in the water below Rainbow Falls yesterday.

Today, an aerial, ground and dive search continued in the pond and areas upstream of Rainbow Falls for the missing male but no body has been found.

Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Arrives in Hawaii

The Nimitz Strike Group (CSG 11) arrived in Pearl Harbor Nov. 25 following a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.  The strike group, along with the air wing and strike group staff, departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment June 5.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 21, 2017) U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), as the ship prepares to moor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole Schroeder)

The strike group consists of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Kidd (DDG 100), and USS Pinckney (DDG 91).

CVW-11 consists of Lemoore, California-based Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, VFA 154, VFA 146, Whidbey Island, Washington-based Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, Norfolk-based Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and San Diego-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.

The strike group sailed more than 78,000 miles during the deployment (equivalent to approximately five times around the world), flew 1,322 combat sorties into Iraq and Syria, and dropped 904 pieces of ordnance. The strike group conducted training and operations with the French Marine Nationale, Indian Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Australian Navy, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, and Royal New Zealand Navy. These included Malabar 17 in the Indian Ocean, Intrepid Sentinel in the Gulf of Oman, and landmark Three-Carrier Strike Force Operations in the Western Pacific. In addition, the strike group conducted visit, board, search and seizure drills, close-in coordinated maneuvers, flag hoisting drills, sea surveillance, replenishments-at- sea, maritime patrol and reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal operations, and air, surface, and anti-submarine warfare training.

“Our entire team is excited to visit the great state of Hawaii,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, commander, Nimitz Strike Group. “After a very successful combat deployment in 5th Fleet, everyone is looking forward to being able to rest and relax before returning home. A couple days enjoying all that Hawaii has to offer is a fitting conclusion to a deployment during which Sailors and Marines across the Strike Group demonstrated an outstanding commitment to excellence.”

Over the six-month span, the strike group conducted port visits in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Chennai, India; Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Hamad, Qatar; Duqm, Oman; Pattaya, Thailand; and Sasebo, Japan. Sailors participated in numerous volunteer events, including interacting with children at schools, visiting patients at hospitals, and socializing with animals at shelters. Pinckney Sailors also participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 50 th anniversary celebration in Thailand, which included an International Fleet Review, conferences, and a parade.

Nimitz Strike Group is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

Two Swimmers in Jeopardy at Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls rescue. Big Island Now photo. Nov. 25, 2017.

Swimmers were reported missing approximately 100 yards above Rainbow Falls on the Wailuku River on Nov. 25, 2017.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department arrived 12:40 p.m., and within first 10 to 15 minutes, witnesses reported that there was a male and female party having difficulty swimming in a pond above of Rainbow Falls.

The two were seen going under and not seen again.

Rainbow Falls rescue. Big Island Now photo. Nov. 25, 2017.

The female was found unconscious in the water below Rainbow Falls. She was extricated via Chopper 1 using the Billy Pugh net to an awaiting medic unit.

The medic unit transported the patient to Hilo Medical Center with CPR in progress en-route.

An aerial, ground and dive search was conducted in the pond and areas downstream for the missing male. The search was suspended at nightfall; it will resume tomorrow.

The woman was reported to be in her 40s; the male’s age is unknown.

Rainbow Falls rescue. Big Island Now photo. Nov. 25, 2017.

Witnesses said CPR was performed on the woman on the way to Hilo Medical Center.

The male was not found after several dive operations suspended.

Rainbow Falls rescue. Big Island Now photo. Nov. 25, 2017.

USS Illinois Arrives in Pearl Harbor

The Pearl Harbor submarine community welcomed the crew and families of the newly commissioned Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) to Hawaii following a homeport change from Groton, Connecticut, Nov. 22.

PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 22, 2017) Virginia-class attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, after completing a change of homeport from Groton, Connecticut, Nov. 22. USS Illinois is the 13th Virginia-class nuclear submarine and the 5th Virginia-class submarine homeported in Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shaun Griffin/Released)

Illinois is now assigned to Submarine Squadron One headquartered at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam.

“Settling into a new home is always a challenge but the Navy has an outstanding support structure in place for service members and their families which greatly reduces the stress,” said Cmdr. Neil J. Steinhagen, commanding officer of Illinois. “Programs like these allow us to focus more of the ship’s resources toward mission preparedness.”

Illinois was commissioned and christened by the ship’s sponsor, former First Lady Michelle Obama, during a ceremony at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Oct. 29, 2016.

It will be the 5th Virginia-class submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor.

“The support from Submarine Squadron One and Naval Submarine Support Command Pearl Harbor has been unmatched,” said Master Chief Machinist’s Mate-Submarine Auxiliary Jack White, Illinois’ chief of the boat. “The crew is energized for the transition and the opportunity to see more of what the Navy has to offer with this great experience.”

Illinois’ ombudsman Rebecca Steinhagen said the transition from Connecticut to Hawaii was smoother than she anticipated. “There are always bumps in the road with a move this big but the squadron was great to step in and help us take care of those bumps,” said Steinhagen. “Things like communication and the drastic time difference are also a factor.”

Steinhagen said the crew and families are excited for the transition from Connecticut to Hawaii.

“The crew and families are ready and anxious to get here and enjoy this weather year round,” said Steinhagen.

Illinois is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged while displacing approximately 7,800 tons submerged.

It is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

‘Fashion for the Fight’ Show at Kings’ Shops

Waikoloa Beach Resort photo of the Kings’ Shops.

The Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa has partnered with North Hawai‘i Community Hospital for the second annual “Fashion for the Fight,” a fashion show featuring cancer survivors and caregivers from North Hawai‘i Community Hospital’s Cancer Center.

The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, at 5 p.m. on the Kings’ Shops stage.

VIP tickets are on sale for $40 and will include special reserved seating, select offers from Kings’ Shops stores and restaurants, and special pūpū and beverages served during the show.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Julia Ramos of North Hawai‘i Community Hospital at (808) 881-4420.

All proceeds will benefit North Hawaii Community Hospital Cancer Center.

The event is also open to the public for viewing. Select stores will offer special holiday shopping incentives after the show.

For event information, visit www.KingsShops.com.

ABOUT KINGS’ SHOPS

Kings’ Shops is Hawai‘i Island’s premier shopping and dining destination. Located in
the heart of the Kohala Coast, the center offers a great collection of brand name
store , such as Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and Tori Richard, along with island
favorites, fine art galleries, casual eateries and fine dining. Kings’ Shops is located at
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive in the Waikoloa Beach Resort.

For more information, visit www.kingsshops.com or call (808) 886-8811.

Santa to Star in 2017 Pāhoa Holiday Parade

Santa Claus is coming to Pāhoa town on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. He will once again be the featured guest at the Mainstreet Pāhoa Association’s annual Holiday Parade.

Families, residents and visitors will begin to line Pāhoa Village Road an hour before the 9:30 a.m. start of the parade. The main street through Pāhoa town will be closed from Apaʻa Road to the high school beginning at 9 a.m.

Madie Greene and Bruddah Kuz

The grand marshall for this year’s parade is Auntie Madie Green. Affectionately known as the unofficial “mayor” of Pāhoa, Green has been an active proponent for Pāhoa and the Puna District for decades.

The theme for Saturday’s parade reflects the plantation town’s new attitude, “E ho ‘ala hou ‘a Pāhoa,”
Pāhoa Rising.

Marching units and floats will be judged on their interpretation of the theme, their spirit and showmanship by a panel of five judges consisting of three adults, and two students from area schools.

Winning organizations will receive albizia wood medallions created and donated by Hawaiʻi Bookmark.

The Hawai‘i County Band and the Heiau o Umi-a-Liloa, Helu Umi Royal Order of Kamehameha will begin the parade. The body of the parade will include lots of keiki from local schools, kūpuna, and clubs and organizations all out trying to impress the judges and entertain the crowd. Santa will arrive at the end of the parade to begin the holiday season in Pāhoa.

Following the parade, Santa will be at Savio Realty for pictures with the keiki. Savio is providing complimentary photos for the parents. All morning long, keiki can enter a drawing for Savio’s Keiki Play House, a whimsical structure that looks like it might have been built by Santa’s elves.

Entrants must be present at the 1 p.m. drawing to win. To enter, one must be 12 years old or younger. Savio will also collect cans of food for The Food Basket, Hawaiʻi Island’s Food Bank.

Mainstreet Pāhoa Association President Matt Purvis commented, “The parade is one of the association’s favorite events of the year. And, it’s a great start to the holiday season in Pāhoa.”

The annual holiday parade is a presentation of the Mainstreet Pāhoa Association, with the sponsorship of local businesses. Since 1993 the association’s mission has been to connect the people, non-profits, businesses and government representatives of the Puna District to advocate for the historic plantation town.

Keaʻau Boy, 16, Reported Missing

Ashton-Gage Demorales-Moniz. Courtesy photo.

Hawai’i Island Police are searching for a 16-year-old Keaʻau boy who was reported missing.

Ashton-Gage Demorales-Moniz was last seen in Keaʻau on Oct. 2, 2017.

He is described approximately 5-feet 5-inches tall, weighing 120 pounds, with short brown hair and blue eyes.

Police ask anyone with any information on his whereabouts to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

DUI Checkpoints in Place for Thanksgiving Weekend

DUI checkpoints to increase during holiday season. BIN photo.

As part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” officers will conduct islandwide DUI checkpoints in anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

Sgt. Robert P. Pauole, head of the Traffic Services Section, said impaired driving has been responsible for 11 of the 29 fatalities so far this year.

“Always remember to have a designated, sober and licensed driver before you start drinking,”Sgt. Pauole said. “If you can’t find one, don’t take a chance—call Uber or take a taxi.”

Sgt. Pauole also urges motorists to wear seat belts during every trip to prevent injury or death in the event of an accident.

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which means it has the potential for more crashes.

Buckling up provides the best defense against injury or death in a crash, Pauole said. “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that risk of fatal injury goes down by 45 percent for front-seat occupants of passenger cars who wear seat belts and by 60 percent for light-truck occupants who wear them,” he said. “Survive your Thanksgiving drive. Buckle up and drive sober.”

UPDATE: Navy Aircraft Crashes Into Ocean Near Japan

UPDATE: 

Search and rescue operations continue for three personnel following a C-2A Greyhound aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa at 2:45 p.m. today.

Eight personnel were recovered by the “Golden Falcons” of U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12). The eight personnel were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time.

“Our entire focus is on finding all of our Sailors,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, Commander, Task Force 70. “U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts.”

USS Ronald Reagan is leading search and rescue efforts with the following ships and aircraft: U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63); MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the “Saberhawks” from U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 77); P-8 aircraft from the “Fighting Tigers” of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 8; P-3 Orion aircraft of the “Red Hook” U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 40; Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Helicopter Carrier Japan Ship (JS) Kaga (DDH 184); and JMSDF Hatakaze-class destroyer Japan Ship (JS) Shimakaze (DDG 172).

At approximately 2:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time, Nov. 22, 2017, the C-2A aircraft with 11 crew and passengers onboard crashed into the ocean approximately 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa. The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan.

The C-2A is assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five’s mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters.

The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

The incident will be investigated.

A family assistance center is online at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Families who live off base in Japan can call 0468-16-1728. Families living in the United States can call +81-468-16-1728 (international); families who live on base can call 243-1728 (DSN).

A United States Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa at approximately 2:45 p.m. today.

The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff.

The aircraft was en-route to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.

USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.

Health Insurance Subsidies Available for Small Businesses

The Hawaiʻi Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) received $428,864 in federal funds to help augment the Prepaid Health Care Premium Supplementation Trust Fund (PSF). The PSF allows eligible small employers to receive partial reimbursement for health care BIN SYLE ONE WORD premiums that have been paid during a business year. Since 2011, the PSF has paid out over $2 million.

On Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, Hawaiʻi was granted a waiver from the Federal Affordable Care Act requirement that a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) operate in the state. As a result, the related Federal Tax Credit previously available was terminated for plan years beginning after Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. In place of the tax credit, Hawaiʻi will receive federal funds of approximately $2.7 million for plan years beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017 through Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.

Section 393-45 of the Prepaid Health Care Act (PHC) details the requirements small employers must satisfy in order to qualify for a reimbursement. The requirements are as follows:

  • The employer employs less than eight employees entitled to PHC coverage.
  • The employer’s healthcare plan is approved by DLIR.
  • The employer’s share of the premium cost for eligible employees (single coverage only) must exceed 1.5% of the total wages payable to such employees and the amount of the excess must be greater than 5% of the employer’s income before taxes directly attributable to the business.

In addition, the reimbursement is only for plan years beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.

For more information on how to apply and obtain a claim form (HC-6), visit the DLIR website.

For additional questions or information, call (808) 586-9239 or email the PHC office at dlir.prepaidhealthcare@hawaii.gov.