Travel

This charming Hawaiian island is inviting tourists. Here’s why

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Residents and businesses are still cleaning up from flooding that deluged parts of Kauai, but community leaders are urging tourists to keep coming so residents don’t suffer an economic calamity on top of record-breaking rains that smothered a normally green landscape in reddish-brown water.

Some travellers are cancelling their reservations after getting the wrong impression the mid-April flooding damaged the entire Hawaiian island. Although landslides blocked roads and floods tore apart homes and uprooted trees, most of the island is unscathed. Nearly 50 inches (127 centimeters) of rain fell in one 24-hour period. Some tourists are avoiding the island’s north shore where fast-moving waters swept away cars, even though many businesses have reopened.

Tourists have been avoiding hard-hit Hanalei, a historic small town and the commercial center of the island’s north shore even though many restaurants and shops on the town’s pedestrian-friendly main street are operating or reopening. Rapozo said visitors should stick to the highway and avoid side roads, where tourists are likely to get in the way of repair crews.

Mina Morita, the president of the Hanalei Community Center, said the damaged narrow road leading toward her home is now busy with heavy equipment and residents trying to clean up. She hopes visitors will respect the “local traffic only” sign posted on her street but wants them in the center of town because people whose homes were damaged “definitely need their jobs at this time.”