Community-Based Flood Monitoring

Halelea, HI



Mehana Vaughan



The Halelea team implemented Ho ‘omalu Halele ‘a, a partnership to strengthen local capacity for mountain-to-sea watershed management and flood resilience in the face of climate change.


In April 2018, record rainfall in Haleleʻa, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi caused flooding and landslides, closing off the area highway, damaging over 500 homes, and causing an estimated $19.7 M in losses. Regular flooding and landslides continue since 2018 forcing residents to adapt to this new normal.


Research Partners

  • University of Hawaii (Department of Natural Resource Management, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and Water Resources Center) 

Civic Partners

  • Kīpuka Kuleana
  • Waipā Foundation
  • National Tropical Botanical Gardens at Limahuli
  • Hanalei Initiative
  • Nā Maka Onaona
  • Kauaʻi Resilience Team
  • Kauaʻi Emergency Management Agency


The team focused on connections:

  • Connecting knowledge systems and sources: focused on Halele’a (letting the land guide); Indigenous knowledge; community expertise; place-based history; hydrology; and atmospheric science.
  • Connecting people to information: five Halele’a weather stations; one road camera; and three USGS stream gauges feed an information hub and informational website for residents.
  • Connecting people to streams and waterways: developing a Community Stream Monitoring Team and Restoration Handbook.
  • Connecting people to one another and learning: summer programs; community workshops; university courses; fairs; and community workdays.


    • Installation of four weather stations, highway camera, and other sensors for early warning
    • More than 1000 hits on the information hub coalescing weather station data, bridge webcam live stream, and cross-sourced social media posts.
    • Seven miles of streams mapped and invasive species removed from prioritized watersheds.
    • More than 20 workshops, trainings, field trips, and pacific-wide community exchanges to build and measure community-led resilience.
    • More than 10 community members and students hired to work on project, including five students who completed their masters degrees in spring 2023.
    • More than 70 students and teachers participated in field trips to clear invasive species, learn place names and stories of local streams while developing watershed curriculum for area sixth graders.