UPDATE – Two dead, five missing in failure of century-old Hawaii dam

Stressed by days of heavy rains, a century-old plantation dam failed March 14 on the island of Kauai, killing two people. Authorities said five other people were reported missing following the Kaloko Reservoir Dam breach, which sent water and mud surging through several homes.

Water pouring from the 1890s-era dam also washed out a major roadway, isolating rural homes and luxury condominiums on the island’s North Shore.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported the dam is owned by retired auto dealer James Pflueger. The newspaper said it is 44 feet tall and impounds a maximum of 1,400 acre-feet.

Gov. Linda Lingle and state and county officials surveyed the damage by helicopter the day of the breach. The officials then conducted a town hall meeting to update about 250 residents on the situation.

The governor said heavy rains and flooding increased reservoir levels, leading to the Kaloko dam failure, plus erosion, and fear of dam failure at other reservoirs. She extended a series of emergency proclamations, which began in February, to cover March 14-19 because heavy rains were expected to continue across the state through the weekend.

Hawaii has 129 state-regulated dams, according to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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