HONOLULU (KHON) – City officials in Honolulu are sharing a safety message with the public: Stay out of the city’s storm drain system.
This comes after a homeowner claims two strangers suddenly popped up out of a manhole on his property this week.
It is not a typical complaint to the city: A homeowner in Kaimuki said he was in his garage around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday when he started to hear noises coming from his backyard.
The residents of the home wished to remain anonymous, but they told Nexstar’s KHON a man and a woman emerged from the storm manhole located on their private property.
Ian Scheuring, the deputy communications director for the Honolulu Mayor’s Office, said this is the first incident of its kind the department has received. They are taking the matter seriously, he said.
“Storm drains are not places where people should be hanging out or traversing from one location to the next,” Scheuring said. “We do have an easement to access that storm drain manhole cover, and what the department of facility maintenance did was simply weld that manhole cover shut while we can explore a more permanent solution — a locked sort of access point.”
The homeowner said he called the Honolulu Police Department and filed a first-degree trespassing report after the incident. He also contacted his neighborhood board.
Brian Kang, the chair of the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board, said he had not heard of similar past incidents, but he is now expecting to discuss it at next month’s meeting.
“Obviously it’s a public safety issue all around,” said Kang. “It’s a concern for the property owners but it’s also a concern … [of the] safety for individuals accessing these.”
Council Chair Tommy Waters, in a statement, called on the city and Honolulu Police Department (HPD) to conduct inspections of drainage canals in the neighborhood and take necessary enforcement.
An HPD spokesperson said police had not been able to locate the two people who emerged from the manhole this week.
Scheuring, too, wanted to make clear the dangers to individuals entering the city’s storm drains.
“We talk about flash flooding in places like hiking trails, that’s one thing, but storm drains are designed to take that water so they can be very dangerous places,” Scheuring said. “I want to make sure that we dissuade anybody from ever wanting to go into a storm drain for any reason.”